His Bolinas Life
April 23 - June 5, 2011 / Curated by Harriet Kossman
Renowned California artist, masterful teacher and Professor Emeritus at the California College of the Arts, Arthur Okamura was a loved member of the Bolinas community for 50 years.
Okamura first moved to Bolinas in 1959. In the late 1960s he found kindred spirits in the poets, writers, artists and innovators who moved into town. Through his interests, humor and intellectual curiosity, Okamura’s network of friends and colleagues grew to be vast and diverse.
In 2009, shock waves rippled through the community as word spread of Okamura’s sudden death at age 77. This exhibition explores Okamura as both an artist and a man in the heart of his community.
Okamura was a child living with his family in Compton, California in 1941, when the attack on Pearl Harbor led to his family and thousands of other Japanese Americans being forced into internment camps. Later the family moved to Chicago where, as a student at the Chicago Art Institute, he was exposed to exceptional art and teachers. In 1954, while in Mallorca, Spain on a Fellowship, he met extraordinary American artists and poets, including Robert Creeley, who became his mentors and life long friends. Okamura went on to teach at the California College of the Arts for thirty-one years, while producing a prodigious body of his own art. Okamura’s work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Bolinas Museum.
In his town, Okamura collaborated with artists and writers, worked with a health research institute, taught, inspired, played sax, hiked in the mountains, explored ideas, was a father, friend to countless people, and witty magician. This exhibition, curated by Harriet Kossman with Kitty Okamura, explores Arthur’s inspiring and playful life in his own community of Bolinas.