The Project

The Japantown Mural Project is a celebration of the vibrancy of San Jose's historic Japantown neighborhood through artworks by 50 local artists. The environment is a barren, undeveloped plot of land that once served as the City of San Jose's Maintenance Yard. Chain-link fencing is now covered with more than 60 large mesh panels of color. It stretches a quarter of a city block along 6th and Jackson Streets in the heart of Japantown.

The subject matter is highly interpretive, including personal and commissioned works, and encompasses a wide variety of mediums and aesthetics. It also includes references to the site's former life; 100 years ago, it was one of San Jose's very first Chinatown settlements known as 'Heinlenville.' A majority of the artists maintain art studios in Japantown, have displayed their artwork in neighborhood galleries, or consider this wonderful place their home.

The Japantown Mural Project is truly representative of its own unique community and will be enjoyed and appreciated for years to come.

Used Brick

Used Brick

by Ken Matsumoto

Ken Matsumoto

The Artwork
This is the top view of a piece that is the second in a series of works made from red clay bricks. These bricks were once part of the exterior of what was originally the home of the Ishikawa Family. From what I understand, the home was donated to the Japanese-American Museum of San Jose and became him to the museum. In late 2006 or early 2007, the home was razed in order build a structure more appropriate to the mission of the museum. It was from the rubble that the bricks came to be in my possession.

The piece is in the form of a vessel; wide at the top with sides tapering down to a narrow base. The recess you see in the top gives the piece an implied function. This is a function (a container) which is easily recognizable no matter what your ethnic/socio-economic background or level of sophistication in viewing contemporary art. It is a simple form and it reflects, as well as anything else I have made, my interest in creating objects that are accessible and communicate with as many of those that view the objects as possible.

Born: Ventura, CA 1949. Third of seven children raised Catholic attended parochial schools.
Drafted: August 12, 1969 into the US ARMY. Served as an illustrator in the Psychological Operations of the Special Warfare Group, Ft. Bragg, NC.
Attended: Santa Barbara City College, AA degree Art 1973. San Jose State, MFA Sculpture, 1983.
Moved to current location at 592 North Fifth Street in 1996.
Opened ArtObject Gallery in April 2000.
Currently: Sculptor/Gallery director/owner.

Sponsored By

Japantown Community Congress of San Jose · Office of the Consulate General of Japan · Wesley United Methodist Church
Jack's Bar & Lounge · Dr. Stephani Nguyen of Japantown Dental · Kay's Shiseido · Dr. Jerrold Hiura & Lucia Cha

Contemporary Asian Theater Scene · Japantown Neighborhood Association · Union Bank of California · Chris & Minako Tsuji

Japanese American Museum of San Jose · Yu Ai Kai Senior Center · Banana Crepe · Halcrow Partners · Pan Pacific Bank · Alex Alsorady & Darcie Kiyan
Sophie Horiuchi Forrester · Helen Hayashi · Roy & PJ Hirabayashi · Aggie Idemoto · Reiko Iwanaga · Jeanne Katsuro · Tamon Norimoto · Kristin Okimoto
Jeffrey Oldham · John Ristow · Rev. Gerald & Kathy Sakamoto · Victoria Taketa · Leah Toeniskoetter · Joe Yasutake

With Thanks

Japantown Community Congress of San Jose · The City of San Jose Arts Commission · Dr. Jerrold Hiura · The Rast Family
Corinne Okada Takara · Ruth Tunstall-Grant · Cherri Lakey · DJ Ashford
Empire Seven Studios · The Arsenal · Sign-a-Rama of Downtown San Jose

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