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In Profile


by Sarah Schmerler

Chelsea dealer Miyako Yoshinaga references the movie Lost in Translation, starring Bill Murray, when describing the evolution of her role as a dealer. In today’s global economy, where artists might be born and raised in more than one culture and thrive and show their artwork in others, incredible subtleties are at play. And Yoshinaga, whose bailiwick is contemporary and postwar Japanese photography, is a kind of translator’s translator. “Moriyama, Araki, Sugimoto – I understand their status and people’s fascination with them,” she says over cups of green tea in her sunlit office on West 27th Street, “but there are other artists making fascinating work of equal quality who are not appreciated or shown here. By 2004 I realized that, as a dealer, I would have to specialize if I was to make a difference; and I know that this is where I can do the most good.”

Yoshinaga has a softspoken graceful demeanor that belies a bubbling sense of humor. She grew up in Kumamoto, in southern Japan; her mother was a housewife-turned-educator, her father was a judge. Minamata, site of the tragic mercury poisoning of thousands, was also in the prefecture of Kumamoto, and her father had to rule on the case. The young Yoshinaga grew up with a respect for balance and discernment. 

She attended Keio University in Tokyo, majoring in cross-cultural psychology and  researching shamanism on the Okinawan Islands. After graduation, she worked at a local publishing company, saving money for trips abroad, where she immersed herself in major museums. After five years she took what was supposed to be a year’s leave to pursue museum studies at NYU. But she never left New York. A three-month internship at the Brooklyn Museum turned into a part-time job as research assistant in the Asian art department. A colleague from Taiwan with DIY-dealer aspirations called her to arms one day: “We have to show people Asian art is alive, not dead!”

Over the next two years, the two of them put on pop-up shows of under-recognized artists. When her partner decamped back to Taiwan, Yoshinaga, who had been building a collector base, took the plunge into private dealing under the moniker M.Y. Art Prospects. In 1999, she went public in a space on West 29th Street, and in 2003, she moved into her current digs. Although she shows work in a diversity of mediums, 70 percent of her exhibitions are photography. Difficult-but-worthy fare gets the museum-quality treatment in her well-lit, single-room space – black-and-white vintage work by Bauhaus-era photographer Iwao Yamawaki, for example, who studied under Moholy-Nagy, and, in a small nook that serves as the gallery library, intimate publications by Nazraeli Press of Emi Anrakuji, who makes mesmerizingly confessional self-portraits, some of which are printed onto found postcards. The works are psychologically direct, but dense and full of layers. “I know it is impossible to understand what someone in another culture feels,” she says. “But ultimately, with strong and honest work, one doesn’t need to translate or even explain. It’s more like I facilitate. There are so many points of entry into a photo. I just bring people to the work. Then they decide for themselves.”

archives

2015
2014

November - December 2014
Miyako Yoshinaga

September - October 2014
Terry Etherton

July - August 2014
Corinne Tapia

May - June 2014
Laurence Miller

March - April 2014
Rachel Smith

January - February 2014
Peter Fetterman

2013

November - December 2013
Margy Dudley

September - October 2013
Howard Greenberg

July - August 2013
Keith de Lellis

May - June 2013
Paul Kopeikin

March - April 2013
L. Parker Stephenson

January - February 2013
Scott Nichols

2012

November - December 2012
Martin Weinstein

September - October 2012
Steven Kasher

July - August 2012
Joseph Carroll

May - June 2012
Robert Anderson

March - April 2012
Andrea Meislin

January - February 2012
Etheleen Staley and Takouhy (“Taki”) Wise

2011

November - December 2011
Bryce Wolkowitz

September - October 2011
Julie Saul

July - August 2011
Mary Virginia Swanson

May - June 2011
Gus Kayafas

March - April 2011
Peter MacGill

January - February 2011
David Moore

2010

November - December 2010
Bonni Benrubi

September - October 2010
Rick Wester

July - August 2010
Jay and Rose Deutsch

May - June 2010
Robert Mann

March - April 2010
Catherine Edelman

January - February 2010
Pamela Schoenberg

2009

January - February 2009
Karen Jenkins-Johnson

March - April 2009
Deborah Bell

May - June 2009
Jeffrey Fraenkel

July - August 2009
Mark Pinsukanjana, Bryan Yedinak

September - October 2009
Yancey Richardson

November - December 2009
Hans P. Kraus, Jr.

2008

March - April 2008
Nailya Alexander

May - June 2008
Stephen Bulger

July - August 2008
Sidney Monroe

September - October 2008
Amy Miller

November - December 2008
Sasha Wolf

2007

November - December 2007
Bruce Silverstein

September - October 2007
Candace Dwan

July - August 2007
Ariel Shanberg

March - April 2007
Ellen Harris

January - February 2007
Paul Amador

2006

January - February 2006
Martin McNamara

March - April 2006
Michael Foley

May - June 2006
Dan Cooney

July - August 2006
Wilson Scanlan

September - October 2006
Daniel Power

November - December 2006
Sharon Tanenbaum

2005

January - February 2005
Tom Gitterman

March - April 2005
Yossi Milo

May - June 2005
Arlette Kayafas

September - October 2005
Brian Clamp

November - December 2005
Sarah Hasted

2004

September - October 2004
Ariel Meyerowitz

November - December 2004
Anna Walker Skillman