Shintani’s Ancestor Chimes featured in Seattle Weekly

“Working lighter on the land means being fragile and vulnerable. For that reason, my favorite work here hangs almost unnoticed from fir branches near a picnic area facing the bay. Judy Shintani‘s gently ringing Ancestor Chimes are partly narrative, with text on oyster shell….”, writes Brian Miller

It’s great to get some press and I’m especially pleased that a photo from my Ancestor Chimes and positive feedback on the installation is in the Seattle Weekly. Carkeek Park has been a challenging venue for many of the artists and my heart goes out to them. Please read the review of the Rootbound Heaven and Earth Exhibition below:

Another view of Hiroshima, thoughts on two bombings

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Seeing the Hiroshima Exhibition at the Anthropology Museum at University of British Columbia was so timely. It was happenstance that I should be in the Northwest only a few days before the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor bombing.

Being Japanese American always leaves me feeling so out-of-place and awkward when confronted with these two devastating bombings, one in my homeland, the other  in the country of my grandparents.

I remember going to the Pearl Harbor memorial and feeling shame and sadness. I felt like the enemy at the memorial. I could not help but wonder how my mother who grew up in Honolulu dealt with it. She was there the day of the bombing. She had just left the movie house with a friend and thought it was just another air raid and then she heard the explosions and saw the smoke.

In Japan at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and I again felt alone and shameful. As I viewed photos of burnt people and leveled buildings, waves of shock and repulsion went through my body. It was hard to be in the presence of these images.

It was refreshing, but equally as painful to see the 48 photos of Ishiuchi Miyako. Instead of black and white photographs of piles of rubble and dead or injured people, she focused on colorful and frayed, but not too damaged clothing and artifacts left behind after the vaporization of their owners. It was as if I could visualize the young vibrant woman who may have been on her lunch break or the tot who left behind her dolly. Miyako chose particular articles that spoke to her and an assistant carefully laid them out on top of a light box so she could photograph them. The lace on the collar of a dress was arranged to lay flat and the arms of a shirt were made to curve to express movement. Some of the pieces were placed in the sunshine as if to re-energize them, bringing them back to life. It was the missing wearers that visitors were left to fill in or perhaps they transported themselves into the photographs framed on the wall.

I appreciated the way the exhibition was hung. Children’s clothing and toys were placed low on the wall, at kids’ height. Some photos were hung higher and some closer together. They seemed to be speaking to each other. The dimly lit room begged viewers to talk in hushed voices and to move with respect through the space. I liked how the photographs were reflected in the sheen of the floor. It reminded me of a timeless, still pond.

This was not the first time I had encountered Ishiuchi Miyako. I had seen her work in 2005 at the Venice Biennale. There I saw her equally beautiful and poignant exhibition of remnants of her mother’s clothing and articles – a lacy negligee, a used lipstick, a handkerchief. I fell in love with her work and it was a joy to see her again in Vancouver.

I believe I has here to see her photographs to give me the time and space to reflect on horrible acts of war – whether they happen in my country of birth, my country of ancestry, or anywhere in the world.

Organizing for creativity is a different kind of order

I’m not ashamed to admit it, I hired an organizer. Sometimes I think it is just best to get some one to help me do a job I haven’t been able to tackle.

The professional I brought is a local coastside gal named Jeri Dansky. I met her through twitter believe it or not! Jeri is a pleasure to work with. She never made me feel like a bad girl who hadn’t cleaned her room.

On her first visit she walked around my art studio with a thoughtful look on her face, not saying a word. I followed behind her jabbering about why this area was a mess and why that was on the floor, etc. She stopped and turned to me and asked, “Do you like to have your stuff out?” I kinda thought it was obvious by the different piles I had. But what really surprised me next was when she said, “because we can organize things to be out so they can give you inspiration.” This was a totally new concept for me! Then I remembered going on tour through a Reggio Emilio preschool room. They believed in having materials out for kids to interact with throughout the day. They felt having access to art stuff allowed kids to incorporate art into their everyday life. I was in love with this idea!

What we did to organize things to be ‘out’ was to put like things together in open plastic boxes. My categories so far are: natural materials, ribbons and strings, different papers, found stuff, collage materials, seashells, metal things. We threw away a lot of stuff that was just junk and made a pile to shred. We went through 5 big shelves.

In a big heavy cardboard box on a top shelf I found my POPAI (Point of Purchase Advertising International) Indians, all eight of them. After looking at the awards and talking about what I could do with the mini statues, I decided to put them on display on my bookshelf. Why you may ask. Well because they represented the best part of my hi tech merchandising career, the recognition by the industry of great store design, innovative merchandising, and hard work. The awards also remind me of how these skills can be helpful in my new interest in pursuing public art opportunities. Now looking at them I wondered why I had hidden them away.

Well I have much more to do, but I’m actually looking forward to organizing now!

Here’s Jeri Dansky’s info, and she loves working with artists.

How to do nothing


I recently had a tarot card reading and the main message was “do nothing, and then productivity and deeper understanding will come.” I thought ok, I get that. I will be less busy and pay attention, that way I will be able to accomplish more in a more conscious manner!

But then I started to think about “doing nothing”. How do I actually do nothing? Does that mean I have to stay in bed? Does that mean I can’t work, do art, walk, talk, and eat? Or does that mean – do nothing new, do not start anything, or do not expend energy unnecessarily?

As I was about to move on with my life, my friend Janie stopped by the studio. She told me how this day was just unfolding beautifully for her. She told me how her business was slowing down and she was a bit worried, and then today, out of the blue. she got a call for more work. The work was doing something she loves doing. The synchronicity was uncanny, because I too had just gotten an email from a woman who wanted to meet with me. She wanted to talk with me about doing an arts and social justice workshop! Like Janie’s call, this is right up my alley.

What was so wonderful was that Janie or I had not chased after these opportunities. They came to us because of who we are. We were doing nothing, but just being ourselves.

According to Janie, in her search for higher consciousness, ‘doing nothing’ is about being centered and ‘being’, not trying to make something happen. It is about letting the flow come to you.

I picked up the Thich Nhat Hanh book, Peace is Every Step and opened it randomly to the section Aimlessness. It talks about how the West is so goal oriented and how we know where we want to go and how to get there. He discusses the Buddhist concept of wishlessness or aimlessness. It is about not putting something in front of you to run after because everything is already within us.

I am now seeing it is about ‘not doing’, instead of ‘doing nothing’. It is about balance and being present and enjoying the moment. It is about not filling up your space and time with doing and things. It is about just BEING.

Doe Bay Resort, Orcas Island Paradise!

One of many highlights of our Spring North Western journey, was going to Orcas Island. It is one of the San Juan Islands outside of Seattle, Washington. We are fortunate to have our friend Pliny managing the Doe Bay Resort on Orcas and he and his wife Rene encouraged us to make the ferry trip out there. Just crossing the water was a mood changing activity – as the blueness of the sky and water took over my view. The rainy skies departed and we were blessed with a sun filled 2 days at the Resort.

Doe Bay Resort is a kind of homey place and can be family oriented. We happened to be there on Mother’s Day weekend, so that may have been the reason we saw so many kids, around the fire pit and climbing the jungle gym. We stayed in a small cabin called Upper Satva (we have a groovy friend with the same name) and it had views of the small inlet. It was a great size for 2 people and we walked down the hill to use the community bathroom and kitchen.

The resort also has bigger cabin with bath and kitchen amenities, a dorm house, yurts, and camping area, a library and a yoga studio. The clothing optional sauna and hot tubs were a big draw for us too. A first class restaurant has incredible organic food if you don’t want to cook. We were a bit early for the kayak rentals, but would guess that would be a fun way to spend an afternoon.

The island has plenty of places to explore. We went to the farmers market and munched away on fresh fried oysters and watched kids learning to tightrope. I bought some yummy wild rose oil, home made teas, and bath salts for gifts to bring home. Go up the stone tower on Mt. Constitution, for  a 360 degree view of the San Juans, the Cascades and Olympic Mountains, Northern Puget Sound and Vancouver Island B.C. It is actually noted for being one of the seven most scenic views in the world.

I’d highly recommend a visit to Doe Bay Resort to really re-center and relax in a most beautiful location. Say hello to Pliny and Rene if  you go!

“Dirty Wow Wow”, and other love stories

I have to say I just LOVE this book. From the title “Dirty Wow Wow” you may wonder what in the heck is this about?


It’s a lovely collection and stories about love affairs with childhood toys, mostly the cuddly threadbare kind we carried around with us and slept with. The images of these well loved animals are so heart touching that you have to take a look. Not only can you purchase the book, but you can also go to a site to check out the gallery

So the question is, what about your own stuffed friend? I had a humpty dumpty that my mother said I carried on whole baby talk conversations with in my crib and Ander had a Winnie the Pooh (but don’t tell him I told you so!)

The Shape of Things: Paper Traditions and Transformations until 2/15/09

I really recommend going to see this show at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco. It closes on 2/15. If you are like me, I love seeing what artists can do with a simple piece of paper.

R. Lang
R. Lang
J. Chung
J. Chung
J. Linssen
J. Linssen

The Shape of Things: Paper Traditions and Transformations
November 14, 2008 – February 15, 2009

The exhibit explores the history of cut, folded, and molded paper, alongside contemporary artists who introduce fresh perspectives on those traditional forms. From the unique to ubiquitous, the exhibition examines paper traditions from Asia, specifically from China, Japan, the Philippines, and Korea, and includes papercuts, origami, katagami, paper lanterns, papier-mâché, and paper boxes. Juxtaposing the work with that of contemporary artists demonstrates how traditional arts, folk art, contemporary craft, and fine art are all part of the same continuum.

Check it out at:

Burmese Restaurant in SF

After teaching elder art in SF, I treat myself to lunch. I try and rotate around the City. A couple of weeks ago I went back to try a restaurant I used to go to years ago in the Richmond neighborhood.


Pagan serves authentic Burmese and Thai cuisine. I remembered this exotic Tea Leaf Salad. I ordered that again and it was just as great as before. Lap Pat Thut is made of imported Burmese tea leaves, mixed nuts, fried garlic, sesame seed, peanuts, grounded shrimps and dressing. The ingredients come beautifully individually arranged on the plate and the server mixes it for you at the table. I love the way the different flavors intermingle and the crunchiness of the salad. They also serve a vegetarianism version of this dish.

The restaurant decor is very beautiful with elegant gold details and art. The employees wear the brocaded native clothing.

It is definitely worth checking out!

Pagan Restaurant
3199 Clement St (at 33rd Avenue)
San Francisco, CA 94121

Wed-Sun 11:30-3:30pm, 5:30 – 10pm
Closed Mon and Tues

Robots, gotta love ’em

I have really been enjoying the rediscovery of San Jose this summer. One of the places I am really impressed with is the San Jose Museum of Art. They have two great exhibits there right now.

by Clayton Bailey
by Clayton Bailey

Everyone, kids to seniors will enjoy the Robot, Evolution of a Cultural Icon exhibit that is on until October 19. I have included a couple of videos of two artists to wet your appetite. One will remind you of Moontown!