By David Yamaguchi For The North American Post
An immense, freshly painted mural by community artists Erin Shigaki and Kenji Hamai Stoll graces the west side of the main building of the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington.
Celebrated on July 21, the two-story mural incorporates both Japanese and Japanese American design elements. The former include finger-like protruding wave tips, traditional textile designs and mizuhiki knot tying. The latter include the Frank Fujii-designed Minidoka icon for the Issei, Nisei, and Sansei generations held within an enclosed community bounded by barbed wire, a No-No sign for Nisei who chose to not swear loyalty to the US nor be drafted for military service from their incarceration camps, and bold gold lettering that glows in the afternoon sun.
The mural proclaims to the world that the building houses the historic Seattle Japanese Language School. Today, the school comprises only a a part of the larger-mission cultural center.
Funding was provided by a $20,000 grant from the National Academy of Design / Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Trust Fund for Mural Painting in the United States.
While NAP readers are familiar with Shigaki’s recent body of public artworks, Stoll’s name is new. He is a Tacoma-based artist accustomed to working on huge murals.
If the thought of riding a construction lift up two to three stories to hang the JCCCW mural scares the reader, don’t even think about checking out Stoll’s website (yokenji.net). For there, we see a recent mural on the side of an apartment building that involved him working two to nine stories off the ground!