Chiura Obata (American, b. Japan, 1885–1975)
Mountain Stream in Autumn, Happy Isles, 1937
Chiura Obata (American, b. Japan, 1885–1975) came to the United States as a teenager in 1903. He settled in San Francisco but forever held to the tools and teachings of his native Japan. He worked with ink and watercolor, made block prints, and wrote spare, image-filled poetry combining the ideals of his homeland with the energy of his adopted American West. His color woodblock prints capture kiin seidô
), the living moment, the essential nature of a scene. In 1932 Obata began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, but ten years later he was interned along with thousands of other Japanese Americans. While detained, Obata organized an art school and taught art to more than 600 people. After World War II, he was reinstated at Berkeley, became a naturalized US citizen in 1954, and retired as professor emeritus in 1955. Obata continued to exhibit and lecture almost until his death.