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Brookline artist offers paper collage images of her Japanese homeland

"Fireflies in Hand" by Sumako Cohn.

"Fireflies in Hand" by Sumako Cohn.

Like many of her peers, as Sumako Cohn entered her senior years, her thoughts increasingly turned to memories from decades ago that seemed to grow increasingly distant.

Of course, in a literal sense, distant is just what they were: Cohn, born in 1942, grew up on the island of Hokkaido, in northern Japan, very far from the bustling Brookline neighborhood where she and her husband now reside.

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But her childhood in a small Japanese village also seemed to be full of images now relegated to the past: horse-drawn carts, agricultural workers, children playing amid the fireflies.

Cohn wrote about her memories. But then she found an even more natural way of depicting them. A classically trained artist who has worked in watercolor, oil painting, and origami, among other media, she remembered the rare Japanese paper that had made the journey to the United States with her when she immigrated in the mid-1970s, and she started creating paper collages to depict scenes from her childhood.

The project resulted in more than 40 pieces, which are on exhibit in Gallery 93 at the Brookline Senior Center through June 27. Each of the images is accompanied by a short description in both Japanese and English.

“As I grow older, I find myself thinking more and more about our bonds with the past and the almost unimaginably hard lives of earlier generations. I find that I am thinking of ancestors I have never met, an uncle who died in the war, and so many others who had given life their all and taken part in so many dramatic events,” she said, describing the genesis of the paper collages.

“Each picture tells a different story,” Cohn said. “I grew up in the countryside of northern Japan. I was one of eight sisters. We had no cars, no TV, no phone. My sisters and I were always playing together. I put each of these memories into its own picture.”

David Weinberg, curator for Gallery 93, was intrigued by Cohn’s work as soon as he saw it.

“A lot of times when an artist has a show with many pieces, there’s one standout, one piece that seems to resonate with everyone,” Weinberg said. “This show isn’t like that: People are drawn to every one of the images. Ms. Cohn is a very talented artist, and paper collage is just one aspect of her work, but what fascinates me is the multicultural aspect of her memories.

“On the one hand, she is depicting prewar Japan on the island of Hokkaido: that’s very specific. But for so many of us, once we are past middle age, the whole issue of childhood memories becomes very important. And that aspect of her work is universal,” he said.

Admission to Gallery 93, in the senior center at 93 Winchester St., is free, and it is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 617-730-2770.

CLASSICAL STRINGS: “A World of Music,” Middlesex Community College’s spring concert series, features faculty member Adam Levin performing on the classical guitar at 8 p.m. Friday in the Building 6 performance space on its Bedford campus at 591 Springs Road.

For the free concert, Levin will perform works for solo guitar composed by Eugene Ysaye, Johann Sebastian Bach, Juan Manuel Ruiz, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Joaquin Turina.

For more information about this spring’s concerts series, call 781-280-3923 or visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/worldofmusic.

FUNNY RIVALRY: Boston’s Improv Asylum goes toe-to-toe with New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade in “Boston vs. New York — Who’s Funnier?” on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, 333 Nahanton St. in Newton.

Tickets to the evening of sketch comedy are $26, or $23 for JCC members, students and seniors. For more information or purchase advance tickets, visit www.bostonjcc.org/artsevents or call 617-965-5226.

FACULTY REPERTOIRE: On Sunday at 3 p.m., a trio of Indian Hill Music School faculty members explore a range of flute and piano pieces from Baroque through the 21st century, including works by Amlin, Foote, McDonald, Gaubert, Higdon, and Kamen, at the school, 36 King St. in Littleton.

For more information about the free performance, part of the Marjorie Besas Memorial Concert Series, call 978-486-9524 or go to www.indianhillmusic.org.

SPRING “DANCES”: The Metropolitan Wind Symphony presents its spring concert, “Dances,” on Sunday afternoon in Cary Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington.

Featured on the program will be “Rolling Thunder” by Henry Fillmore, “Postcard” by Frank Ticheli, and “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff (arranged by John Krance). Student musicians will join the orchestra for several other numbers.

A preconcert lecture will be held at 2:30 p.m.; the concert begins at 3. Tickets are $18, or $14 for seniors, $6 for students, and free for children under 5. They are available at the door or can be reserved by calling 617-983-1370.

For more information, go to www.mws-boston.org.

CHAMBER MUSIC: Temple Emanuel of Newton hosts a free chamber music concert Sunday at 3 p.m. in the temple’s main sanctuary, 385 Ward St. in Newton.

The all-Beethoven program will feature Yevgeny Kutik on violin; cellist Jan Muller-Szeraws; and Adam Golka, piano. A dessert reception with the performers will follow the concert.

For more information, go to www.templeemanuel.com or call 617-558-8100.

“SUPERSTAR’’ ON STAGE: “Jesus Christ Superstar,” the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical that over the last four decades has morphed from a controversial Broadway show to a time-tested classic, will be performed by the Drama Club of Hopkinton Middle School with a live orchestra this weekend.

The shows are Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Hopkinton High School auditorium, 88 Hayden Rowe St. Tickets are $12, or $10 for students and seniors.

RUSSIAN ART, HISTORY: The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton is hosting “The Tsars’ Cabinet: Two Hundred Years of Russian Decorative Arts Under the Romanovs,” which highlights works created between the time of Peter the Great in the early 18th century and Nicholas II in the early 20th century.

Many of the more than 230 objects in the exhibition were designed for the tsars or other members of the Romanov family, while others illustrate the styles that were prominent during their reigns.

The exhibition, which will remain on view through May 24, includes many pieces from significant place settings made by the Imperial Porcelain Factory, from the reigns of Empress Elizabeth and Catherine the Great to Nicholas and Alexandra.

Visitors will see items featured at state banquets at the Kremlin and other imperial palaces, as well as items designed for use aboard the imperial yachts. Among the rare items are two pieces from a service that Catherine the Great ordered for her grandson, Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, as well as pieces from services presented by Augustus III of Saxony and Frederick the Great to the ruling families of 18th-century Russia.

The exhibition also features 200 years of glassware, including a beaker from the time of Peter the Great and a vase made by the Imperial Glass Factory that the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna kept on her desk in Denmark after the Russian Revolution.

Russian enamels from the late 19th century include a jewel casket made by the Ovchinnikov firm and presented to Tsar Alexander III’s minister of the interior, as well as pieces by Fedor Ruckert and masters in the Faberge firm.

Admission to the museum, at 203 Union St. in Clinton, is $7; or $5 for ages 59 and over; $2 for ages 3 to 17; and free for children under 3.

For hours and more information, call 978-598-5000 or go to www.museumofrussianicons.org.

Send ideas to nancyswest@gmail.com.
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