By Dana S. Mar
The North American Post
Community members gathered at Hirabayashi Place Dec. 16 to witness the installation of a painting of Gordon Hirabayashi’s legacy by Roger Shimomura. The art piece stands at 10′ tall by 8′ depicting various icons pertaining to Gordon’s life and influence. The piece will stand facing the front lobby window “in a fashion that invites residents, visitors and passersby to learn about Gordon Hirabayashi and his life,” as stated by Sharon Tomiko Santos. From inside the lobby, the painting will be behind two “art doors” which are expected to hold a small permanent exhibit that goes into further depth about Gordon and the Hirabayashi case.
Leslie Morishita of InterIm Community Development Association began the formal portion of the program by introducing the family of Gordon Hirabayashi present at the event as well as Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos of the 37th District and Senior Judge Mary Schroeder of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“This major art installation,” said Sharon Tomiko Santos, “is going to provoke further thought and public discussion about the many things, major and minor, which influenced history and intersected with Gordon’s life.”
Following Rep. Santos, Judge Mary Schroeder shared her experience having known Gordon. “What he taught me,” she said, “that has guided me ever since as a judge, is that every time I write an opinion I try to think am I on the right side of history in this opinion and I know Gordon Hirabayashi did what he did because he knew he was on the right side of history.” A quote from Judge Schroeder, who was Chief Judge in the 9th Court of Appeals when she wrote her opinion for the Hirabayashi case, is inscribed on a bench just outside of Hirabayashi Place.
In a short interview during the event, Roger Shimomura expressed his positive sentiment for the unexpectedly large turnout for the event of those who wished to pay tribute to Gordon Hirabayashi and engage in this important community project. “Anything that brings attention to Gordon would peace me,” Shimomura said of his hopes for the mural, “I don’t think that the artwork itself is that important it’s just a vehicle by which to learn something about Gordon.”
The painting can be viewed at 442 S. Main St. beside the main entryway to Hirabayashi Place.