"Cherry Trees in Bloom on Arashiyama," 1853 woodblock print on view at Worcester Art Museum
"Cherry Trees in Bloom on Arashiyama," 1853 woodblock print on view at Worcester Art Museum

Worcester Art Museum invites visitors to tour 19th-century Japan this winter through the dramatic, colorful prints created by esteemed artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858).

The exhibition "Travels with Hiroshige," on view Feb. 23-May 26, explores the artist's 69 landscape prints of famous sites across all of Japan's provinces. He created his print series, "Famous Views of the Sixty-odd Provinces," between 1853 and 1856, a time of change in Japan after a growing network of roads spurred an increase in tourism within the ancient country.

His prints tapped into the growing fascination with the country's landscape and captured many "meisho," or famous places that were long catalogued in Japan's literary tradition.

His work process for "Famous Views" included sketching outdoors. But he also used other sources, including Japan's centuries-old landscape painting tradition and numerous commercial travel guides.

"Hiroshige's 'Famous Views' was an incredibly ambitious and innovative project in its time for depicting famous views of each province," said Vivian Li, the WAM's associate curator of Asian Art and Global Contemporary Art. She and researcher Susannah Baker organized the exhibition.

"From his use of irregular forms, unexpected vantage points, fine color gradations and bold compositions, he encouraged Japanese interest in visiting even the country's most remote places," Li added. "But his lasting impact was in combining bold artistry with a sense of marketing, collaborating with his publisher to package the finished series as an album that appealed to experienced and armchair travelers alike."


For hours and info on related programs, visit www.worcesterart.org.

Nancye Tuttle's email address is nancyedt @verizon.net.

Gallery News

HONEST ABE HEADLINES VACATION FUN: What better way to celebrate President's Day than to meet Abraham Lincoln, a great American president? Concord Museum hosts a visit with Honest Abe, performed by Steve Wood, on Monday, Feb. 18, 1-2 p.m., in the Franklin Lyceum in the museum's Rasmussen Education Center. Tickets $10/adult; $6/child for members, or $16/$8 for non-members, at 978-369-9763, ext. 216, or www.concordmuseum.org. Other activities during the week include daily crafts, tours of the Concord Museum highlights exhibit and the popular Teddy Bear Tea on Saturday, Feb. 23, noon-1 p.m., and again 2-3 p.m. Space is limited; reservations by phone at number above are required.

MORE VACATION FUN: Lowell National Historical Park's Boott Cotton Mills Museum hosts the "Stuffie Storytime and Sleepover" on Monday, Feb. 18, 10-11 a.m., as part of Kids Week. Bring a favorite stuffed animal to the Boott for a story hour and craft, then leave your stuffed friend for a free overnight at the museum. The next day, staffers will share a full report of what your pal did. Hint: It involves learning how a loom works. This is a free event. Visit www.lowellkidsweek.org for info on all activities. ... The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton hosts its "Pop-up Makerspace: Plastics!" on Tuesday, Feb. 19-Sunday, Feb. 24, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Learn how to recycle used plastic milk jugs, yogurt containers, plastic bags and more into colorful art works, saving landfills from trash and brightening the world with art. Free with admission. Visit www.museumofrussianicons.org.

ART DEMO: Artist Steve Previte gives an oil painting demonstration at the upcoming Chelmsford Art Society meeting Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m., at Chelmsford Center for the Arts, 1A North Road. Born in East Boston, he has lived in Hollis, N.H., for many years. He has studios there and in Nashua. His representational impressionistic painting style focuses on the light and atmosphere of New England scenes, from woodland to urban-industrial. He has exhibited locally and regionally at the Whistler House in Lowell, Currier Museum in Manchester, N.H., and Hotel Meridian in Boston. The demonstration is free and open to all.