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Fine Verses Folk

Since early childhood, I have had the great honor and luxury of being exposed to high quality art, music, foods, and cultural endeavors. This is a natural occurrence when your father is an art professor and your mother plays classical Japanese music, dances, and does Ikebana. We went to museums, the symphony, and learned to cook the cuisine of my parents’ tastes. At eighteen years of age, I moved out to rent my own house and quickly noticed that there were no paintings on my walls or sculptures on the mantle. Nor were there any large colorful architecture and art books to view.
It was during these days that I went through a plethora of what musicians call ‘day jobs’. I was a professional cook, a sheet metal fabricator, residential house painter, and sold pianos at Sherman Clay, all to make ends meet. These jobs gave me a good appreciation for the nice piano jobs that currently consume my life.
Art is a reflection of our lives in that just as we have a wide variety of lifestyles, we concurrently have a wide variety of art forms. It should be noted that all the various forms of art, music, literature, and dance have validity assuming the artists are sincere in their endeavors.
Growing up in an art environment, I spent many hours trying to philosophically reconcile the difference between what is considered fine art verses what we call folk art. A work of fine art like a Picasso or a George Tsutakawa is usually easy to recognize wherein a ceramic plate or soup bowl would generally be thought of as utilitarian or folk art. However, there are, in fact, many ceramic pieces that are totally spontaneous and technically advanced which make them truly fine and sophisticated. The funny thing is that like music, food, dancing, and writing, we now find that all these concepts overlap on a daily basis. It is the sincerity of the potter, songwriter, and chef that brings us meaning to what would otherwise be a very mundane existence.

[Editor’s Note]
Deems Tsutakawa is a local Sansei musician. He can be reached at deemst@deemsmusic.com.

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Misa Murohashi is Editor-in-chief of The North American Post and general manager of North American Post Publishing Inc. Born and raised in Japan, she moved the Seattle area in 2005. She earned a master's degree in Urban Planning from the University of Washington in 2016 and has been at the current position since 2017. She often writes about urban issues and Japanese American early immigration history in the Seattle Area.