Mokuhanga Surprise – Art Adventure in Honolulu

During my Artist Residency here at Ark of the Unicorns in Honolulu, Hawaii, Thursday’s Art Adventure was to meet up with my friend Mia O. She is here for the International Mokuhanga Conference and we met up at UH Manoa’s Main Gallery at the Walk-thru for the selected artists show. As mentioned before, Mia has received a Recognition Award from the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts!

Across the hall is UH Manoa’s Commons Gallery which is showing more mokuhanga work, “Into the Fold,” including a set of (6) additional pieces of Mia’s work. Mia has generously provided additional prints to be included in the Open Studios at Chinatown Artists Lofts where Ark of the Unicorns is. Please stop by on Oct 6 to see!

Found such a lovely surprise at the “Into the Fold” show! I recognized Patty Hudak’s prints there also! She is also a member of Art Byte Critique as are Mia & I. Gorgeous work, Patty! Her pieces are the set of (3) on the bottom row.

Took a few more photographs of work…Enjoy!!

The risks we take as artists…unfortunately they hung Kate’s work sideways :\ But a good sense of humor had her laughing about it.

Hmm…Interestingly I chose to photograph mostly blue prints, there really was a great variety of work shown in a complete range of colors!

Follow more of my Art Adventures on Instagram: StudioDeanna

Mia O, Patty Hudak, and I are all members of Art Byte Critique out of Tokyo, Japan

Washi and Whetstones

Best place to find a whetstone aka Tokyo Art Adventures w/Mia O – Mokuhanga Artist!

Six of us, all members of Art Byte Critique, set out from our respective homes around the Tokyo Metro area and converged upon the 360+ year old, Ozu Washi paper store in the Nihonbashi area.

We each had our reasons for making this errand; Michelle wanted washi sheets for her contemporary nihonga painting idea. Lori was on a quest to find just the right texture, color, and pattern for her handmade bee-themed mamebon, bean-sized books. Patty, Louise, & Mia O were each looking for paper for their printmaking projects and I was there out of curiosity.

Ozu Washi fits the widest range of washi paper enthusiasts. They inform the tourists, yet showcase their centuries of consistently top quality paper in various forms throughout the other floors with a large room set up as a museum. Lovely displays of amazing art pieces utilizing washi, cones of paper yarns, videos, and classes all in one place!

We each walked out with beautiful sheets of washi that handled each of our widely varying needs. My purchase was a package of five tissue paper thin, buttery soft, all white sheets to create a backdrop for photographing my artwork.

After a delicious lunch of Soba noodles at Takashimaya we made our way to Morihei Knife & Whetstone Shop in the Asakusa-bashi area.

Oguro Sensei brought out his iPad to show us additional information regarding his business; comfortable using modern technology. Some of his offerings are listed on his website, yet many, many more are available in his shop.

Morihei has been around since 1933 and is dedicated to the absolute highest quality whetstones for mokuhanga carving chisels, chyoukin metal etching tools, nigiri sheers, sushi knives, and swords. The variety in each stone was astounding, the color, the grit, the size, all had a unique purpose. Oguro Sensei said many sushi chefs come to Japan to purchase the excellent knives but then need to return to buy a whetstone from him to keep those knives sharp.

Mia & Patty receiving advice and discussing their multitude of choices!

TIP for choosing a good whetstone:

Place a drop of water on the stone; a slowly sinking drop is better and the water stays around to provide lubricant for the item one is sharpening.

If the water drop sinks too quickly, it is a poor quality stone.

Both Patty and Mia needed to purchase a stone for their mokuhanga tools that day and this is what our group, Art Byte Critique, is about, supporting each other so we can each successfully move forward with our own work.

This large whetstone is used to sharpen one’s sword!

Mia O is a Selected Artist at the International Mokuhanga Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. Currently her work can be seen at the UH Manoa Art Building Main Gallery. Mia was among a handful of printmakers to be selected for acquisition awards by the Hawaii State Foundation for Culture and the Arts, Arts in Public Places!!

Mia will be showing additional work available for purchase in the Chinatown Artists Lofts First Friday Open Studios event room 203 – Ark of the Unicorns Gallery Space


Morihei – Knife & Whetstone Shop

111-0053 JAPAN

Taito-Ku, Tokyo

1-28-6 Asakusa-bashi

Approx 2 min walk from either the JR Asakusa-bashi Stn or the Asakusa-bashi Subway Stn

Artist-in-Residence at Ark of the Unicorns

First full day at Chinatown Artists Lofts and I wake up to bamboo filling a bright alcove space. In Japan, on the first day of business, it is customary to see a new bamboo stalk ready to grow as the business does. Coincidentally it was also World Bamboo Day, an auspicious beginning, I felt.

Each morning lazy Loft Cat oozes about the greenery, but does deign to twitch his tail if you wish him a “Good Morning.” Jet lag hits hard in the afternoon so Loft Cat has the right idea.

Focusing this artist residency on the human form I have started with sketching ideas. Utilizing Adobe Sketch and all the fun layers options I designed a first test piece:

It’s been a great week of reconnecting with Hawai’i and reconnecting with friends with the week culminating in full day of concentrated studio time with my friend, Chloe Tomomi! I finished stitching the wire crocheted sculpture form I started earlier in the week. Using 20 gauge black wire and adding a 26 gauge navy blue, several stitch plans had to be revised to create the look I was going for. I still have a thought to add a few fiber accents. Not sure if it will be a good idea but adding them and changing my mind won’t harm the piece:

Total size: 24″ x 3″ – Using a Japanese size 8 hook.

As I took photos of our progress, I see that Chloe Tomomi’s colorful painting stands out:

Chloe and I started the days work with a conversation re the Japanese use of blue vs green and with a lovely landscape with mountains in just the right shade of ‘green.’

After creating them she chose to switch gears and made this lovely scene:

Materials: Arches Cold Press 140lb, Kuretake Gansai Tambi 36, Daniel Smith, Holbein Gouache 18

Later in the evening she chose to complete the first piece:

Materials: Arches Cold Press 140lb, Nicker Poster Color. Inspired by Nickerenogu YouTube vid.

Many of Chloe’s works are available in her Etsy Shop: Chloe Tomomi

You can follow my day to day works in progress & art adventures on Instagram: StudioDeanna

Ark of the Unicorns’ Artist Residency at Chinatown Artists Lofts: Instagram: ArkoftheUnicorns

Yokohama Triennale 2017 – Part II of II

Read Part I of II click here.

The big surprise for me at this exhibition was video art. Haven’t been a big fan of it, Sometimes I’ll manage to sit through a short video, but I hadn’t been wow-ed until this show.

At the Yokohama Museum of Art, Zhao Zhao’s 120min video of getting a refrigerator into the Taklamakan Desert is not my idea of a way to spend 2 hours of my life. However, with an understanding of short attention spans, Zhao Zhao’s video was split into nine repeating segments. So one can see where the video is going without standing around for 2 hours wondering what he is doing with this electric cable and refrigerator in the middle of a desert.


by Zhao Zhao

After taking the free shuttle bus to the Red Brick Warehouse we saw the work of Terunuma Atsuro. This artist chose to integrate the video & digital work into the paintings. One piece, Mienai Nozomi, contained a video monitor and a digital photo frame. Whereas the other colorful piece, Mieteru Nozomu, had a fun video projection bringing the painting to life.

The best video installation was by Ragnar Kjartansson from Iceland. A completely enclosed room with about eight large screens shows musicians each in their own room of a home, playing a beautiful musical piece together. Only connected with each other by what they hear through the headphones. The details are haunting, mysterious, as one seeks to learn where they are, and laughing at grandpa in his lawn chair. One wonders who is conducting and in the end it doesn’t matter so much to the viewer as does the connection being made.




Yokohama Triennale 2017 – Part I of II

My friend Michelle Z & I agree, this year is much better than the 2014 exhibition. Much, much better! Here are the works that impressed me most, culminating in my favorite artist, who turned out to not be a part of the Yokohama Triennale!

The show starts big with the work of Ai Wei Wei on the facade which addresses the European refugee crisis. This is one piece I hope makes people think. Seeing the capacity of the boats, the quantity of life jackets included in this installation and I remember that Japan has only accepted 27 Syrian refugees in 2015, 28 in 2016.

European Refugee Crisis Installation – Ai Wei Wei


Bamboo Sculpture by Joko Avianto
Bamboo Sculpture by Joko Avianto
Minimalist work of copper wire & eye screws by Prabhavathi Meppayil

Tatiana Trouve created what looked like homeless shelters of cardboard but were actually pieces of cast copper and bronze, painted to look exactly like cardboard. Interesting concept referencing the Italian architect Ugo La Pietra, “To inhabit is to be at home everywhere.”

The idea of painting Lenin’s face melded with Leonardo DiCaprio’s characters from his various movies was quite lost on me, but as I read the tag the pieces included embroidery. I couldn’t find it until Michelle pointed out that it was the hair! In every one of the paintings, maybe six or so, the hair was immaculately embroidered! For some reason this artist is not included in the guidebook so I am unable to properly credit the artist.

From rakes to washers, Malaysian artist Anne Samat, takes the mundane every day objects and creates gorgeous, colorful work embodying traditional Malaysian textiles and gender roles.

Kazama Sachiko
“When the hunted becomes the hunter” by Kazama Sachiko

Fighting back however they can, as safe as Japan can seem, it isn’t. Not for the young women who ride the trains to & from school. Kazama Sachiko utilizes the traditional ukiyo-e woodcuts to convey the ever present message young women in Japan must always be alert.

by Paola Pivi

Polar bears covered in brightly colored feathers! I did return a second time and found that the bears were behind a big line of tape with signs for parents to hang on to their children’s hand :)

by Mark Justiniani – Love the illusion created by this Hole

We took the free shuttle bus to Koganecho area but found most of the studio spaces won’t be open until Sept 15. Many of the spaces that were open, were just, ‘meh.’ Only one of the four photographs above is part of an installation…can you guess which one?

We did happen upon an artist working in her studio space and I was totally wowed by her work! She wasn’t part of the official Yokohama Triennale but probably should be! Using anodized aluminum sheeting, she was hand stamping letters into it:

Check out the work of Kaneko Miya, who recently rec’d her Doctorate from Tama Art University. There is another artist, Katie Paterson, who has a laser cut piece of black anodized aluminum in the Yokohama Trienniale. One can really see the difference between the work of these two artists and how important process is to the final pieces. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Kaneko Miya in the future! My fav artist of the day :)

Part II of my Yokohama Triennale adventures comes as an enjoyable surprise…HERE

Exploring Toba Nakamichi

Visited the lovely seaside town of Toba Mie Prefecture, this week. Toba is well worth the visit. Gorgeous in that it has been able to keep a lot of it’s old character in the beautiful wooden buildings, temples, shrines, and continue to be friendly and outgoing to visitors.

Soaked in a bit of quiet, rural Japan and attended the Toba Stories Art Project.  Stayed at the KAMOMEnb guesthouse near the train station.

A photo journey of my visit through Toba and the bonus of enjoying an exhibition by the students from Joshibi University. Their task; to speak with the people of Toba and create artwork from these conversations.

Toba CityToba City

Accountant Tanuki
HabuShyuu Tanuki


At Sainenji Temple, Artist Sarah Brasier spotted these two little cats in an antique hanging scroll which she chose to recreate in a single painting. Their very oddness, as if the original painter had never seen cats irl.
Pinhole Camera Photography by Furuichi Kako
Furuichi Kako’s Pinhole Camera Photography in the gorgeous Kadoya Bldg


Glass work by Ootake Mika in Kadoya Bldg
Ootake Mika: In Toba-shi “…I feel there is a shared space rather than a flow of time.”
Kubo Miki – Oil on Canvas
Omori Miho: Spinning Lite
Kadoya Bldg – Previously a drugstore, it was the town’s bustling gathering point as remembered by a senior town member.
I find the best things in the most out of the way places! Yummy, lemon, basil seed drink from Thailand…at the Circle K :)