Arthur Okamura, RIP

This morning I received an email from Stephen Beal, President of California College of the Arts, bearing sad news:

FROM PRESIDENT STEPHEN BEAL

Dear CCA Community,

I’m very sad to report the death of Professor Emeritus Arthur Okamura. He passed away on July 10 near his home in Bolinas. He was 77.

Arthur taught at CCA for 31 years. Upon his retirement in 1997 he was awarded the distinction of professor emeritus. A master teacher, he inspired generations of artists with his impassioned commitment to his work. Although “retired,” he taught a weekly art class at the New School at Commonweal, a health and environmental research institute in Bolinas, and was working on a new series of paintings at the time of his death.

Born in Long Beach, California, Arthur and his family relocated to Chicago after World War II. He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In the 1950s he came back to the west, eventually settling in Bolinas in 1959. He was a prolific painter who also worked in screenprinting and drawing. His work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. You can read more about his remarkable life here.

A celebration of Arthur’s life is planned for later in the summer. We will apprise the community of the details once they are confirmed.

We have lost a very important member of the CCA community. In his 31 years at the college, Arthur was an influential mentor to hundreds of students and a great friend to his fellow faculty members and staff. He will truly be missed. On behalf of the college, I extend my sincere condolences to Arthur’s family.

Sincerely,
Stephen Beal
President

Arthur Okamura was my teacher for “Introduction to Screenprinting,” my first year at CCA. I was timid in my approach to this medium, and Arthur didn’t exactly take the pressure off. One day he came up behind me saying anxiously, “What the f— are you doing? What the f— are you doing?” Well, I was probably letting the ink dry on the screen, or something equally idiotic. But I learned to love the medium enough to take another screenprinting class with another wonderful teacher, Malaquias Montoya.

Arthur was the graduate advisor to a fellow student, Gayle Antokal. She is enormously talented, but had not yet hit her stride when she had a solo show of her work on campus. Arthur chastised her, saying “You are making stew when you should be making souffle!” I’m happy to say that Gayle now makes the most exquisite “souffle.” Her mentor would have been very proud.

Advertisements

A Hope Worth Remembering

I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.” — Bob Hope

Born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, England on May 29, 1903, Bob Hope emigrated to the United States with his family when he was four years old. He died July 27, 2003, in Los Angeles, California, at age 100.

Mr. Hope’s entertainment career spanned vaudeville, radio, film, television and live performances. A comedian, actor, singer and dancer, Mr. Hope was also a humanitarian. For 50 years, he went on the road to entertain American troops, wherever they were stationed. In 1997, he became the only person in history to be designated an “honorary veteran,” for his dedication to the U.S. Armed Forces.

The video clip below is an episode of a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast of Bob Hope, featuring Don Rickles. It was broadcast on October 31, 1974. Among the guests seated at the dias were Bob Hope, Jack Benny, John Wayne, James Stewart, Ginger Rogers, Howard Cosell, Phyllis Diller, Flip Wilson, Rich Little, Milton Berle, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Governor Ronald Reagan, Reverend Billy Graham, General Omar Bradley, Astronaut Neil Armstrong, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President Gerald Ford, and Mr. Hope’s wife Dolores.

Art Grant Hits Bottom

The British Press is calling it “cheeky” and a “bum deal.” Welsh artist Sue Williams, 53, was awarded a £20,000 ($32,760 US) grant to study cultural attitudes towards female buttocks. Mrs. Williams explained, “The project is taking on the issues around the bottom and how it is viewed in contemporary culture and viewed by the male.” Her evaluation process entails making plaster casts of women’s behinds.

The Arts Council of Wales awarded the grant, which was funded by lottery sales. Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament Adrian Sanders speculated that most people would question using the lottery money for this purpose. However, the comments on The Sun’s web site ranged from wry to favorable. There were more than a couple of offers of assistance.