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Go for Broke!





Movie excerpts from "Something Strong Within"
(Written dialogue by Sumobobby)

Web Notes

Until I did this website, I did not realize how much change had taken place in the past 20+ years of painting. I was surprised that there were different “periods” where there was a definite difference in subject matter and color scheme. I have these slide notes to talk about those breaks and try to talk about it.

It was nice for me to watch my whole body of work in one sitting. It was also sad to see my work from 1977 to 1989 because those are no longer available… not because they were bought, but because I threw them all out. Call it what you want… my wife calls me an idiot … but it was something I needed to do in 1990...I have no regrets.

In fact, I really did not think I would paint again after that. After throwing everything out, including my supplies, I took care of my newly adopted daughter and son. Then in 1993, I was playing baseball with the next door neighborhood kids and had to go into my neighbors backyard to retrieve an errant baseball, when I found my old easel… why it was there I have no idea, but I felt that was a sign that it was time to paint once again…


Here are quick commentaries on the artwork I did… there are past commentaries on several pieces also.

Schoolwork 1977: I was young and ambitious… had a lot of energy, hopes and dreams… didn’t like doing “commercial” art. And even though I got my degree in Illustration, my work was far more interested in pushing the limits and getting into the teachers skin than it was to have a commercial piece of work. Anyways, I thought to myself, this is school, not work, so have fun with it… I was influenced with Claus Oldenburg and the like…


1977 to 1982: I got married in 1979 and turned down a job at an art studio, and became a grounds keeper for the school district of Long Beach… and on my off hours began to paint… this was my period of finding out what my “style” was going to be… I found most of this work got boring and old after a while… superficial… I began to do what interested me… for a while I would go on location and draw… I liked Jim Dine so I copied him for a while… I enjoyed doing collage so I would incorporate that into my work.


1983: I did not know anything about canvas or what surface to paint on… there was a Standard Brands paint store right next door so I got masonite, since it was cheap and easy to work on, and some canvas board. The store also sold returned paint for a buck, so I bought those instead of expensive acrylic paint in the tubes. I started out by putting newspaper or other pictures on the surface and draw on top of them… this began my journey into finding my “style”… what I liked about it was I never got bored doing it because the pictures underneath would always be different and I didn’t have to take hours to draw something… it was spontaneous and easy… and I enjoyed it.

The problem I faced was that the Masonite warped after I finished painting on it. It cost about $200 plus to frame it too. So I decided to spend a little money on canvases that were at Standard Brands and the art supply store. I also started finding out about artists co-op’s in the L.A. area. I became a member of L.A. Artcore. That was one of the best things I did. The art director was Lydia Takeshita and she was a wonderful mentor and teacher. Always encouraging me to paint and giving me a name of a canvas maker who not only made canvases twice as cheap but any size… and box framed so I wouldn’t need to frame anymore paintings.


1984: I guess I would call this my black and gray period… it’s funny, I didn’t think about what colors or subject matter I was going to paint. It just happened… now looking back there are definite periods of certain color schemes… I would use those colors until I got tired of it…


1985-86: Didn't do too much during this period of time. It's been so long ago I can't tell you why.


1987-88: Obviously my most colorful period… I had a one man show that year and I think it was my most satisfying time… I felt like I had come into my own… had a nice style which everyone seemed to enjoy… the only problem was I got tired of colorful pieces of fluff…


1989: I must have burned out on 30 x 40’s because most of my work was small… I remember I had a show in Japan and China so I had to go small and light… these were on gator board and unframed canvas… the Tiananmen Square massacre just happened so my paintings reflected that time.


1993-94: This begins my religious and judgment series… looking back I think these were the beginnings of self portraits and looking deeper into my own life.


1995: This was my UnHoly Bondage series… truncated and severed limbs, straight jackets, masks… shame, judgment, death, hatred…


1996-2002: This began my "Oh, I killed a Jap a while ago..." series that started to solidify my reason for painting in the first place. Dealing with my self-hatred and pain of being a Japanese American male living in America.


2003 to 2007: I did one painting in 2003 called "The Scream" which showed my outrage of what had happened during World War II. It was also after watching "Something Strong Within", the home movies of the camp that compelled me to paint this painting. After Martin Luther Kings birthday in 2004 I painted "I Am a Man" which started me on the road getting back my manhood that the government stole from my grandfather and father during the war and beyond. In 2005 I finished reading a book by Ed Miyakawa which prompted me to paint my final series called "No More". These five pieces of work encapsulated my entire journey thus far. It was fitting that after I completed these pieces I was able to show them at OCCCA.

After finishing those pieces I went back to school after the art show in the summer of 2005, and got my teaching credential in Special Education in the Spring of 2006. I got a job teaching students in Orange County that same summer. I plan to get a Master's Degree by 2008 - 2009 and I am starting a new job in September of 2008.



2009 to 2011: No longer listening to those voices from the past, I look forward to what my future holds for me. I no longer fixate on what I am not, but I now see what I am. "I am a man"... after 55 years I am able to say that and believe it. This is for my grandfather and my father. In a small way I feel I have regained our manhood back. And it feels good.




2011 to Present: Did a compilation of all my work and called it "Transformed". I would like to have an installation somewhere in order to show all the work I have.


Email: raisawa@sce.edu