Friday, December 19, 2014

Recent Paintings

E.O. 9066, Series 31.  Woebegone.  I looked up "woebegone" in the dictionary and it means exhibiting woe, sorrow, or misery; also dismal, desolate.  This little girl, surrounded by luggage and her parents, looks lost, alone and uncertain about her future.  The little girl was painted from a photo of my mother when she was sent to Japan after she was orphaned at the age of three.

                                                      E.O. 9066, Series 31.  Woebegone. 
                                                        Watercolor on paper,  30"x22"

E.O. 9066, Series 28, 29, and 30 are titled  Unfinished Business.
E.O. 9066, Series 28.  Unfinished Business: Euphemisms, came from the realization that government officials used inaccurate terminology to describe the mass removal of Nikkei from the west coast during WWII.  The employment of euphemisms is described in Words Can Lie or Clarify by Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig.  Download her essay at

                                     E.O. 9066, Series 28. Unfinished Business:  Euphemisms.
Acrylic and collage on canvas, 36"x 24" 

E.O. 9066, Series 29.  Unfinished Business:  Hardship and Suffering, depicts the systematic destruction of the Nikkei family unit during the forced removal and incarceration.  Families lost most of their personal possessions as they were forced to remote areas, then released after the war to start a new life from scratch.  Parents lost control of the family.  The long hours of work to rebuild their lives after the war took a toll on male heads of households.  My father died at the age of 45, a few years after being released from the concentration camp.  Studies have shown that 40% of Nikkei males incarcerated during the war, died before they reached the age of 60.

                        E.O. 9066, Series 29.   Unfinished Business:  Hardship and Suffering.
                                                         Acrylic on canvas, 36" x 24" 

E.O. 9066, Series 30.  Unfinished Business:  The Questionnaire, depicts the consequences of how one answered the vaguely worded Questions 28 and 29 of a clumsily administered loyalty questionnaire.  Those who replied "," were denounced "disloyals" and "troublemakers" and sent to Tule Lake, the concentration camp in northern California designated as the War Relocation Authority's National Segregation Center.  Those sent to Tule Lake were stigmatized, but a growing movement seeks to reject the wartime "disloyal and troublemaker" labels as unfair, and redefines Tulean prisoners as outspoken patriots and heroes who had the courage to stand up for their rights as Americans.
                            E.O. 9066, Series 30.  Unfinished Business:  Questionnaire.
                                                        Acrylic on canvas, 36" x 24"

E.O. 9066, Series 27. Pilgrimages, shows participants in the 2014 annual pilgrimage to Manzanar concentration camp near Lone Pine, California, raising banners representing the 10 major concentration camps and other detention sites for Nikkei in World War II.  I was honored to represent Poston, where I was incarcerated with my family as a child.  Each banner carrier wrote a brief statement for the official program, and mine was: "I feel the weight and burden as I raise the banner of my family and others incarcerated at Poston."

                                                     E.O. 9066, Series 27.   Pilgrimages.
                                                        Watercolor on paper, 30" x 22"

San Diego Watercolor Society International Show 2014


This photo of Mary Higuchi and Don Hata was taken by Chuck McPherson at the reception for the San Diego Watercolor Society's 2014 International Show on September 27.  Mary received the  AWM Global Advisors Cash Award ($500) for her painting of Manzanar Guard Tower.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Good Summer News

The Summer 2014 edition of Acrylic Artist features one of my paintings, Suppression of Evidence. The article is titled Behind the Canvas:  Every Picture Tells A Story  (page 120).  I think you'll find this magazine very informative, featuring many artists I truly admire.

E. O. 9066, Series 25. Naïve Newcomers shows a group of incarcerees dressed in their Sunday best as they arrive at their destination. How anguishing could it  have been to find poorly-constructed barracks, guard towers and barbed wire fences around them?    These same people were incarcerated, along with 120,000 other Nikkei (Japanese Americans), in concentration camps for the duration of World War II.

Executive Order 9066, Series 25.  Naïve Newcomers. 
Watercolor on paper,  22" x 30

Okaasan's Journey is a painting about my mother's life.  Her life of hardship, and determination to make life better for her children, will never be forgotten as this story will be passed on for generations.  Kodomo no tame ni ...for the sake of the children.

Executive Order 9066, Series 26.  Okaasan's Journey. 
Watercolor on paper,  22"x 30"

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Non-Alien" Nursery School, 1942-45

E.O. 9066,Series 24:  "Non-Alien" Nursery School Class, 1942-45.
Watercolor on paper, 22"x30"

I'm seated in the second row, at the end on the right.  Directly in front of me is my younger sister, Etsuko. We were called "non-aliens." The government employed euphemisms to mask the fact that most of the Nikkei (Japanese American) incarcerees were U.S. citizens. Thus, "non-alien" was used instead of U.S. citizen. As I painted this, I empathized with the young children, and  now have some understanding of how that period has left an indelible scar on my life and defines who I am today.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Last year when I went to the Henry Fukuhara Paint Out, I took a photo of Manzanar Pleasure Garden.  I didn't realize until I had the picture developed that the garden was dappled with beautiful shadows. The only recognizable shapes are the trees in the background.  Otherwise, the painting looks like an abstract of beautiful patterned shapes.

Executive Order 9066, Series 22:  Manzanar Pleasure Garden.
Watercolor on paper, 22"x30"

The love of my life is my 5 year old grandson.  I placed him behind barbed wire, writing in the dirt, I Pledge Allegiance.  

Executive Order 9066, Series 23: I Pledge Allegiance. 
Watercolor on paper, 22"x30"

All paintings are available in poster prints, giclee prints, and cards.  Originals are also available.

Monday, March 24, 2014


In January, I was able to take a 3 day workshop with Kathleen Conover from Michigan.  Kathleen is an award winning artist and I have always admired her paintings with multiple layers of color and texture. I have been intrigued with her technique, imbued with symbolism and a very personal reflection of her observations.  From our conversations, Kathleen and I found that we are alike in many ways in our interest in the art world and our pursuit of art education.

I completed two small pieces in her class.  With our textured background, we were to integrate a composition to go with it.  My finished piece, Imprisoned, came as a result of the background of tangled gauge print.  I imagined myself trapped in that tangled mess with the barracks and guard tower in the background.

Executive Order 9066, Series, 20:  Imprisoned

The second painting had textures that looked like rocks, so what came to my mind was the rock garden of Manzanar.

Executive Order 9066, Series 21: Manzanar Rock Garden