by Shin Yu Pai
I thought the show should be called Hey, Good Looking, but the marketing team for the the Wing Luke Museum voted in favor of the more lyric Where Beauty Lies. I’d been hired to write the narrative panels and introductory text for an exhibition organized around decolonizing beauty. Counting up the number of cosmetic and elective procedures I’ve undergone over the years, I felt at least some mild sense of disingenuousness. But part of why I signed up to help with the show was to make myself look more closely at some of my half-examined beliefs about beauty.
Continue reading Where Beauty Lies
by Kamna Shastri
The life-size metal sculptures of George and Gerard Tsutakawa — father and son — are solid mainstays gracing public parks and fountains across Seattle today. The sculptures are almost always curved, edges rounded. Rarely will you see sharp, angled corners or ridges in these designs. Continuity runs through each individual sculpture — and between the sculptors themselves. A new exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum, titled “Gerard Tsutakawa: Stories Shaped in Bronze” dives into the public art, inspiration, and processes of both father and son.
Born in 1910, George was Nisei, second generation Japanese American. He was never very interested in his studies, “preferring to practice his drawing and calligraphy,” writes his daughter Mayumi Tsutakawa. George received his B.A. from University of Washington (UW) in 1937 and volunteered for the United States Army during WWII, mostly teaching Japanese at a military intelligence school in Minneapolis. During WWII he also visited his relatives interned at the Lake Tahoe internment camps, where he met his future wife Ayame Kyotani.
Both husband and wife were artists in their own right: Kyotani a gifted practitioner of traditional Japanese dance and flower arrangement and George an architect, designer, and sculptor, among other things. After he completed his M.F.A., also at the UW, George took on faculty positions at the School of Architecture and later the School of Art. He would go on to teach for 37 years, make a home with his wife in Mount Baker, and raise four children surrounded by the rhythms and inspirations of his in-home studio. His artistic career would span 60 years, leaving footprints in Japan, Canada, and across the United States, making him a pillar of Seattle’s Asian American heritage.
Continue reading George and Gerard Tsutakawa’s Artistic Legacy Honored in New Wing Luke Museum Exhibit
by Yuko Kodama
Beth Takekawa came home one day to a newsletter from her grandmother’s church on her dining table. The priest had written about “this little immigrant lady” in his congregation, and Takekawa read on, wondering who this new person was. She got a jolt when she realized he was writing about her grandmother. To Takekawa, her grandmother was a giant in her household. She says this was the first time she realized how important perspective is in conveying a story.
Beth Takekawa, the executive director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, is retiring after nearly 25 years of leadership at this 54-year-old cultural pillar in Seattle’s Chinatown International District (CID). Wartime took the Takekawa family to the Minidoka internment camp in Idaho during WWII. Post-war, the family moved to Minnesota with the help of a Japanese American relocation committee. Minnesota was where Beth grew up, but she gravitated to Seattle, where her family has roots just a few blocks away from the museum.
Continue reading Executive Director Beth Takekawa Retires From Wing Luke Museum
curated by Emerald Staff
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
Seattle Youth Commission Now Accepting Applications
Application Deadline: June 28 at 5 p.m.
From the source: “The City of Seattle is now accepting applications for the Seattle Youth Commission (SYC), a 15-member commission of ages 13–19 that addresses issues of importance to youth. Appointed by the mayor and Seattle City Council, youth serving on this commission work with elected officials, City staff, community leaders, and young people citywide to make positive changes through policy, organizing, and events.
Continue reading NEWS GLEAMS: APA Artist Relief Fund, Participatory Budgeting, Youth Commissioners, & More!
by Mark Van Streefkerk
The upcoming graphic novel We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration offers a new take on the history of World War II — one told through the resistance of three people. Revolving around the experiences of Jim Akutsu, Hiroshi Kashiwagi, and Mitsuye Endo, We Hereby Refuse weaves their acts of refusal into one overarching plot. A result of a collaboration between co-authors Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura, illustrated by artists Ross Ishikawa and Matt Sasaki, the 160-page graphic novel is co-published by the Wing Luke Museum and Chin Music Press. The book is slated for release on May 18.
In telling Akutsu, Kashiwagi, and Endo’s stories, “We decided not to do it as three different chapters but as one timeline, one story arc that would interweave these three characters. The focus is not ‘These are three heroes of camp resistance.’ No. There’s an overarching narrative of the incarceration experience,” said Abe. “We call it the ‘story of camp as you’ve never seen it before.’”
Continue reading New Graphic Novel Tells Three Stories of Nikkei Resistance to Wartime Incarceration
by Mark Van Streefkerk
A video storytelling campaign was launched at the beginning of this month to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage. “Our Stories Are Your Stories” (OSAYS) is a growing video collection of short oral histories from AAPI people of all walks of life in the greater Seattle area. Coinciding with AAPI Heritage Month, another goal of OSAYS is to help dispel harmful misconceptions about these diverse communities and create empathy as a response to the disturbing trend of anti-Asian violence and xenophobia.
Notable Seattle athletes, artists, actors, and community leaders like Doug Baldwin, Dr. Vin Gupta, Hollis Wong-Wear, Gary Locke, Lana Condor, Yuji Okumoto, Lauren Tran, and more have kicked off the campaign by contributing their stories — and OSAYS expects more to come. The oral histories don’t have strict guidelines but primarily explore the questions, “What does it mean to be Asian American or Pacific Islander?” and “How does identity inform your life?” Anyone from the AAPI community is encouraged to contribute. The OSAYS videos will become part of the Wing Luke Museum’s oral history archives.
Continue reading ‘Our Stories Are Your Stories’ Video Collection Celebrates AAPI Heritage
by Beverly Aarons
It’s 1967, and tucked inside a half-storefront in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, a tiny cultural space is born — Wing Luke Museum. Now, in 2021, that once diminutive cultural space resides in a massive 60,000 square foot building, home to over 18,000 objects, including artifacts, photographs, documents, books, and oral histories. Wing Luke is a prototype of what BIPOC cultural and artistic communities can create through Seattle’s new Cultural Space Agency PDA.
Continue reading Is Seattle Ready for a Cultural Space Renaissance?
by Ronnie Estoque
The recent rise in violent attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) nationally has galvanized community organizers, old and new, to take a stand for justice. History shows us that such hate-fueled violence is not new in any way, and activist legacies left by the likes of Seattle’s Chinatown-International District’s (CID) Donnie Chin continue to inspire the next generation of young AAPIs to organize and protect those most targeted and vulnerable in our neighborhoods.
Donnie Chin was a respected Seattle Asian American activist and organizer. Chin left his impact on the CID community through the establishment of the International District Emergency Center (IDEC), which started in 1968 as the Asians for Unity Emergency Squad. He was inspired by the Black Panther Party to support the CID community with a block watch patrol, free emergency medical services, de-escalation, substance-abuse and mental health check-ins that city departments failed to provide.
“Donnie Chin was a selfless defender of this Chinatown-International District community,” said Robert Fisher, Collections Manager at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. “He spent his entire life helping others and the community. His daily presence is missed even more today.”
Continue reading Virtual Event Sunday to Honor Donnie Chin’s Legacy as CID Advocate
by Jasmine J. Mahmoud
How do we sense at this time? With the onslaught of violence against Asian American and Asian Diasporic people, the horrifyingly regular state-sanctioned murders of Black and Brown people (including CHILDREN), and general harm towards those who our society minoritizes, I’ve been feeling numb and guilty in my inability to sense, as well as to post, donate, fight, and make sense of what’s going on. How do we sense well at this time?
Continue reading Sensing Out of Numbness: A Conversation With Shin Yu Pai
by Ron Chew
(This article was originally published by the International Examiner and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
On Monday, March 29, our hearts were broken. Bob Shimabukuro died peacefully in his southeast Seattle home. We lost a perennial International Examiner writer, columnist, editor, and audacious community champion.
Continue reading Bob Shimabukuro’s Legacy of Community Activism, Art, and Creative Journalism