Art Japan Reviews

Amazing Ink Creations from Three Countries

Tenri Cultural Institute hosts a variety of wonderful cultural events,  including frequent art shows which often open with live demonstrations. I recently shared my impressions of the June exhibitions, and here I’ll be spotlighting the incredible INK IMAGISTS exhibit that will be showing throughout July.

One of the most interesting things about this exhibition is the scope and cooperation involved. It features ink creations by eight different artists from Taiwan, Japan, and the United States, marking the first collaborative show of this type featuring all three countries. The diversity in techniques and approaches to the same medium are fascinating, and every painting shown had something unique and wonderful to contribute.

During the opening there was a live painting demonstration by Taiwanese artist Huang Chien-Lun done on one of the gallery pillars. It was wonderful to get to watch her creation being made.

Later I had an opportunity to speak briefly with her about her other pieces on display (via a translator). She was extremely friendly and it was great to have her share some insight about her paintings and their inspiration. All the artists were excitedly mingling and talking with the attendees, and the opening was a fun, energetic event.


Ink is an incredibly versatile medium, and I was impressed with how strongly that was illustrated here. The variety in style, technique, and composition was fantastic. The collection ranged from beautifully stark black and white creations to striking limited palette works to vibrant full color pieces, and featured subjects ranging from the precise and realistic to the abstract and imaginative and covered several gradations in between.


Not only do these works of art need to been seen in person to be properly appreciated, but I’ve given just a small sampling of the amazing pieces on display. Also, the curator mentioned that there is more to this exhibit than can be accommodated at once, and so some paintings will be cycled in later in the exhibition.

I highly encourage anyone who gets the chance to see INK IMAGISTS now through July 30, 2016 at Tenri Cultural Institute in NYC.


Art Japan Reviews

A Constant Spotlight on Japanese Art in NYC

Tenri Cultural Institute hosts a variety of wonderful concerts and other cultural events, including frequent art shows which sometimes include live demonstrations. I’ve been lucky enough to attend several, and wanted to share my impressions of the June exhibitions.

Flower Garden by Eri Komiyama

Flower Garden ran from June 2nd to 7th and there couldn’t have been a more fitting title for the exhibit. Eri Komiyama’s tapestries were amazing representations of a great variety of vibrant flowers with complimentary background colors to appropriately highlight the subjects of each work. She combines a trio of traditional dying techniques to create these intricate, highly detailed images that are as beautiful as the flowers they depict. Every single tapestry on display was just stunning.


More information about Eri Komiyama and her art can be found here.

Silence and Movement by Yuriko Tateishi

Unfortunately I forgot my camera on the night of the opening of Silence and Movement (which ran from June 8th until the 14th), which is a shame because there was an incredible live demonstration by Yuriko Tateishi. She first wrote a poem on a sheer sheet/curtain, showing an amazingly deft touch to write so beautifully on such thin, loose material. She then demonstrated a different application of her art, drawing a single character with a huge brush on a sheet of paper nearly as large as the sheet she did the poem on. It was fascinating watching the skill and craft on display as she created her art.


Tateishi’s stark, stylistic creations are gorgeous. I later had the opportunity to talk with her a bit (with translation help from a friend). She is wonderfully gracious and friendly, and it was fascinating getting to hear a little about the particulars of her art (such as the necessity of using her entire body in the writing process as opposed to just her arm) and have her explain the meanings of the characters she had drawn on the beautiful fans available for purchase.


More information about Yuriko Tateishi and her art can be found here.

Fusion of Japanese Calligraphy and Painting by Rihaku Inoue & Koichi Terai

The current exhibition (ending June 21st) is a creative combination of painting and calligraphy. I was again lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the opening and see a live demonstration (and even remembered my camera this time 🙂 ). Inoue’s grace and artistry was a pleasure to watch as she wrote over Terai’s colorful paintings.

The collaborative element of the art is exquisite. Terai’s evocative paintings blend color to phenomenal effect and are the perfect compliment to Inoue’s striking calligraphy over top of them. The separate elements come together seamlessly into gorgeous finished pieces.



More information about Rihaku Inoue and Kochi Terai and their art can be found here.


I thoroughly enjoyed all of the above exhibits, and they are just a small sample of the incredible art and experiences Tenri Cultural Institute brings into the heart of NYC.


Art Can Be Made From Anything: The Incredible Work of Red Hong Yi


A while back I happened upon an article that featured an amazing portrait of Jackie Chan made from chopsticks. The imagination and skill on display were incredible. That was my first exposure to the art of Red Hong Yi, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

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Red has done many more amazing works created from unusual materials, from using tea bags to painting with a basketball or celery stalks. All are well worth looking up. For this blog I’m going to concentrate on the projects of hers I was lucky enough to be a part of or see in person.


Art for Nepal

Red has done a number of projects recently focused on compassion and being meaningful. The first that caught my eye was shortly after the Nepal Earthquake, when she decided to make use of her desire to more cartoon style ink drawings to raise money for the victims. Donations were made directly to World Vision Australia, and Red did 100 A5 size drawings of subjects of the commissioners choice. I had one done of my niece and nephew with Skylanders characters (as they’re both big fans). It came out fantastic and they were very happy with the results. 🙂 I was thrilled to have been a part of the project for such a great cause, and admire Red greatly for coming up with such a wonderful way to involve her fans and for all the work she did for this.

Free to Be

My “involvement” in the Free to Be concert was limited to getting one of the commemorative t-shirts with a personalized message from Red on the back, but it was another wonderful project centered around an important cause. The event in Melbourne was held to raise money to fight human trafficking, and Red did a live painting (her first) with duo Big Picture Stuff during the three hour concert.


100 Meaningful Things

Early in 2015 Red posted on Facebook about the impact and meaning of objects and asked people to share photos and stories about their most meaningful objects. All kinds of wonderful stories and items were shared, including heirlooms and numerous other types of things bearing personal significance. I loved the idea and thought a bit about what type of thing to share. I decided on something that was tied to a specific memory, as well as being representative of several aspects of my life.


I shared the above photo and wrote: “I’m going to go with my copy of Dream Hunters. I’ve been a lifelong comic book fan. It’s influenced me a great deal creatively and I have wonderful memories of getting into it via random packs my parents would get me. This particular book is done by two of my favorite creators, and during my first year in NYC I spent 5 hours in line with two of my best friends to get it signed (which included a sketch from the artist on the spot). We had a surprisingly good time for such a long wait, and the creators were still gracious and going strong 3+ hours after their advertised time. So it has a lot of memories attached, is a unique piece of my collection, and represents both my hobbies and the place that has become my new home for many years.”

It was a great to read the various stories from everyone and stood out in my mind as a wonderful activity.

Photo from

At the end of 2015 Red turned this wonderful activity of sharing into something even greater during the exhibition 100 Meaningful Things. She chose 100 stories and (with each person’s permission) created an exhibit where photos of the person and their object along with the story were attached to white balloons floating at various heights. For me this couldn’t have been done any better. The exhibit was beautiful in its simplicity and was structured to encourage interactivity as viewers read the shared stories. I was thrilled when contacted about having mine included.

Photo of goofy looking me and my item for the exhibition.
Red working on “Girl” for an exhibition at UNIQLO.

Boy and Girl

The last project I’ll talk about here happened just this past Friday. As part of UNIQLO’s “sock week” (yes, really 🙂 ) they had Red come to their first store in NY and create an exhibit using socks. There was a meet and greet to open the exhibit, during which we got to see the final little bit finished then meet and chat with Red.

As usual I was amazed with the creativity of her vision and it was quite interesting to watch her work on it. Continuing the theme signed pairs of socks were handed out. I really like the piece and will be stopping by next week to see the companion work (which had installation issues at the time and wasn’t available for viewing).


Getting to finally meet her in person was of course awesome. I had a wonderful time and it was fascinating to get to chat with her about her projects.


Beyond just the unusual nature of the materials she uses, Red’s art is marked with outstanding creativity in vision as well. I adore her work and look forward to see what she has in store going forward. 🙂


Art Wrestling

“Framed” T-Shirt Tutorial

I have a fondness for t-shirts of all kinds of artistic directions, from pop culture to abstract imagery to designs featuring my favorite pro-wrestlers. Of course I can only wear so many shirts, some no longer fit, and some I hesitate to wear because I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to get them signed, etc. A few years back I came across a great idea for turning such t-shirts into wall art using canvas stretchers. I loved the results and it’s become a hobby of mine, and made several “framed” t-shirts to adorn my walls.

For anyone who may be interested I thought I’d share how, demonstrating with a fun design I picked up to help Cherry Bomb with medical expenses from a recent shoulder injury (which she is thankfully recovering well from), and was lucky enough to get signed at the recent Shimmer tapings. The process is straightforward, just takes a little patience … and a staple gun.


Materials needed:

  • 4 canvas stretchers (2 of each required length)
  • staple gun
  • staples (I use 3/8″)
  • scissors
  • t-shirt to be framed (obviously 😉 )

Measure the design ahead of time to figure out what size rectangle you’ll need to create. Keep in mind the neck and sleeves of the shirt will limit the amount of border you can have around the design. For this shirt I used 17″ x 14″, so I purchased two canvas stretchers of each length and assembled them together.


The first pic above is the frame laid over the image, just for reference. Notice it partially covers the image this way, which is fine since the frame is actually placed on the other side of the shirt and the edges of the shirt wrapped around the frame (as shown in the second pic).

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Once the shirt is arranged on the frame to your liking start by stapling the middle of each stretcher. This is to get things in general position and the shirt does not have to be pulled taut here.

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The corners are next. Pull on the corner from behind a bit and flip back and forth to the image side to make sure the image is positioned how you want. Pinch the material at the corner and staple either side. Then flatten or fold the pinched material and staple it down.

Center staples and all four corners done.

Once the corners are done the rest is simple, but requires care. Each side needs to be completely stapled down, and this is where the material needs to be pulled taught each time. Be sure to constantly check the image side to be sure you’re not distorting or tilting the image as you do so. This is especially important if the design has straight horizontal or vertical lines – it’s easy to turn them curvy if you’re not careful.

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Once all four sides are stapled just cut away the extra material.

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And done. Easy way to turned loved shirts into a kind of keepsake, and fun to decorate with. 🙂

The final result:


Thanks for checking this out. Hope it proves helpful.


Impressive Heights Achieved

I recently attended the opening of a wonderful art exhibition called Figure in the Sky at Space 776 in Brooklyn. I found out about it via a friend of mine named Cora Kobischka who has some pieces showing, and I’m very happy she pointed it out.

Postcard advertising the show.

Figure in the Sky features work from five artists and makes great use of the available space to highlight the works. The larger of the two rooms is somewhat bisected by a hanging cloth piece that breaks up the room, and the back wall is a window through which the other room (which is an exhibit in itself) can be seen. The setup makes the space seem bigger than it is and allows a lot of art to be shown without feeling cramped.

I enjoyed the entire exhibit a lot, particularly a couple of neat pieces by Takuya Hayaki that had fascinating use of color and texture. But I’ve always loved the use of shadow and monochrome in art, so the highlight for me were a series of pieces by Cora portraying various imagery in blacks and grays within the outline of egg shapes. They can be seen here, but are really best appreciated in person.

Near the entry is a captivating related exhibit in some sense created by visitors trying to toss monochrome painted eggshells (some filled with glitter) into a small opening in a clear wall mounted case. The remnants of the attempts, the debris that made it into the case, and the couple of shells simply pushed through the opening all combine to what I found to be an extremely intriguing illustration of the potential for beauty in chaos and destruction. Of course being at the premiere meant I was a witness to and participant in said chaos and destruction, which was fun too. 😉


I adore art that gives as much to think about as it does to look at, and I found a lot of it at Figure in the Sky. The exhibit is open until November 9, 2015, and I highly suggest checking it out if you get a chance.




Realms of the Fantastic Brought to Life

For years I’ve been a big fan of the art of Juri Chinchilla, as I wrote about in Beautiful Dreams. Last year I noticed she was doing art for an upcoming card set called Hallowe’en, and was introduced to the wonderful products of Perna Studios.

Hallowe’en base set.

Perna Studios puts out high quality themed card sets in limited quantities. Base sets usually contain 20 cards and are from a variety of artists. Direct purchases always include complete base sets.

Amazing hand drawn sketch cards from the Hallowe’en set by Francois Chartier, Kokkinakis Achilleas, and Liz Chesterman.

What sets Perna apart is the quality and quantity of their hand drawn sketch cards (and other inserts). EVERY set comes with a sketch card, a unique work of art drawn directly on a Perna blank prepared for that particular set.

A few of the gorgeous sketch cards from Perna’s Classic Fairy Tales set. By Jessica Hickman, Richard Cox, Juri Chinchilla, John Monserrat, and Danielle Gransaull.

Besides the unique and collectible nature of such cards, the Pernas have numerous fantastic artists (many more than those involved in the base cards) do art for their sketch cards (including the Pernas themselves). The results are stunning. Many artists will also have a few artist proofs available – blank sketch cards they sell directly as commissioned art (requested subject has to match the set’s theme).

Incredible Red Riding Hood AP by Ingrid K. V. Hardy.

Recent sets have also included a metallic variant of base cards with every set. In addition to the sketch cards, there are usually several limited “chase cards” randomly distributed. These have included more metal variants, exclusive art, lenticular cards, redemption cards, etc.

Metal variants of some promo cards for the Classic Mythology set.

The production quality is top notch as well, with good thickness to the cards and excellent printing on the base sets. The selected themes are wonderful. They celebrate the supernatural and mythological, allowing lots of room for interpretation and imagination in each artist’s renderings. Past sets have included Classic Mythology (I and II), Spellcasters, Hallowe’en, and Classic Fairy Tales. Hallowe’en 2 just went on sale (and sold out) and will be shipping soon. Future sets include Spellcasters 2 and Elementals.

A variety of Juri Chinchilla’s cards from Perna Studios’ sets. Rapunzel and Snow White are sketch cards, hand drawn directly onto the card.

Beyond the fun and quality of the base sets, Perna Studios provides a wonderful way to get original, unique art from a variety of phenomenal artists. I love their products and anxiously await each new release. 🙂

Art Wrestling

Another Wonderful Way Pro-Wrestling is Art

In April 2012 I backed a Kickstarter for The Last of McGuinness, a gripping look at the premature end of Nigel McGuinness’s life long dream. As part of the rewards he was offering a a picture of himself done by an artist named Rob Schamberger, and he linked to Rob’s own Kickstarter. Such was my first exposure to one of the best artists I’ve ever seen.

Rob’s print of Nigel that was offered as part of the Kickstarter for “The Last of McGuinness.”

Rob’s dream was to do a series of mixed media paintings featuring all past world heavyweight champions in pro-wrestling. He describes why in his own words from the project page:

“‘Why would you want to paint heavyweight wrestling champions?’

First and foremost, why wouldn’t I? But seriously, it’s because these men mean so much to so many people around the world. The world championship is the pinnacle of any sport, even a pre-determined one like professional wrestling. The man who holds that title has to be believable as a champion and also has to draw crowds to see him defend his title, both of which are very real responsibilities. In the old days, the champion would often have to legitimately defend the title against opponents who were looking to bring the title to their territory. I also want to do this for the fans who fill the auditoriums and arenas every week, who make all of the magic happen.”

I have a print of this unbelievably realistic painting of Bret and Owen, and I’ve had people mistake it for a photo.

I’ve been a pro-wrestling fan all of my life, and I was thrilled to see such a talented artist wanting to devote his skills to honoring its stars. He campaigned hard during this first KS, offering commissions and a variety of other rewards and bonuses and it made it’s goal in the last minutes. Both the paintings that were the point of this KS and the commissioned rewards were incredible and Rob’s reputation rapidly grew.

His second Kickstarter in early 2013 was to take his collection on tour across the US. The tour itself was an overall success, but had a major setback in the middle as Rob’s truck was hit by a semi outside of Secaucus NJ. Thankfully he was fine, but he lost all of the prints and paintings he was transporting to show at Wrestlecon that year’s Wrestlemania weekend. It was in the midst of this that I got to meet him at the con. Rob was in reasonably good spirits despite the harrowing experience. His printer overnighted new prints and he made the most of things, hanging out with fans and enjoying his time at the con.

Rob’s perfect rendition of Kana, which I was lucky enough to get signed at Shimmer 53.

It was fantastic to get to meet him in person after chatting a bit online and hopefully helped take his mind off of things a bit. He’s obviously as big (or even bigger) a fan than I am so it was a real treat to discuss wrestling and his art. As a bonus I had attended the Shimmer show just minutes before finding Rob’s table, where I got the incredible painting he did of my favorite wrestler as part of my rewards for the first KS signed by the subject herself.

Jaw dropping depiction of Undertaker vs CM Punk I got from Rob for my brother-in-law and nephew.

The brilliance of Rob’s work is the way he captures real people while embracing experimental art techniques. His use of color, shadow, and other artistic techniques is innovative and gives his work depth and a captivating feel. The range he’s shown in his paintings is incredible and he never stops pushing himself to make the next one even better.

Rob’s fame and awareness of his work grew and grew, and he was noticed by several employees of the WWE. He now works directly for them, continuing to create amazing renditions of their superstars which are offered on WWE’s auction site, signed by their subjects. They also have posters and prints of his work available at WWE’s online shop.

Perfect paintings of Curt Hennig and Randy Savage.

It’s been a privilege to follow his journey since near the beginning, and I’m excited to keep doing so going forward.


Beautiful Dreams

A highlight of the conventions I’ve attended over the years has been exploring artists alley. Row after row of tables filled with imaginative tributes to known characters and original works, by artists eager to meet fans and share the results of their efforts.


An incredible digitally painted scene (top).


Otakon in 2009 (I think) was the first time I saw the art of Juri the Dreamer (Juri H. Chinchilla) and it immediately wowed me. She had a variety of both digital and traditional art on display, all dripping in atmosphere and conveying a ton of emotion. I picked up a couple of prints and she’s been my favorite artist ever since.


Dizzy, Millia Rage, and  Jam Kuradoberi from Guilty Gear



I saw her at various conventions the following couple of years and got some great pieces, including an incredible set of colored pencil commissions at Anime Boston 2010 featuring Guilty Gear characters.

I adore her use of color, particularly in her hand drawn work. Masterful use of colored pencil gives the finished art a soft feel while keeping colors bright and vivid with a lot of depth.


“The Mistress of the Night”


Juri has a wonderful imagination and her original creations are always unique and striking.

Now living on the West Coast and working on a variety of projects, Juri isn’t currently attending cons or doing commissions. But there are still opportunities to get her wonderful art. She has print store at and participates in card sets for companies like Perna Studios.  Perna puts out high quality themed card sets in limited quantity. Juri’s contributions have been fantastic.


Some of Juri’s cards from Perna Studios’ sets.


Looking forward to seeing what the future brings for Juri and her art. 🙂