PURE Art Show – Installation Piece “The Bed”

The Bed - Installation by Masako Arita, Jason Cowan and Inga Ilze Peterson

“The Bed” – Installation by Masako Arita, Jason Cowan and Inga Ilze Peterson. Part of the PURE – Taiji Arita Memorial Retrospective and Group Show at the Odd Fellows Hall in Mendocino, August 2012

Taiji Arita was constantly creating. Dreaming, sketching, thinking. His wife Masako tells us that he was a prolific dreamer, and that in his dreams he saw art. Taiji kept notebooks, art supplies and a large roll of paper on a hand made spool near his bedside. He frequently woke from a sleep to sketch and make notes based on the content of his dreams. This was something that Taiji did for years and years on end, creating a huge catalog of his thoughts and ideas.

During his waking hours Taiji would expand upon these ideas. More sketching, thinking, working, experimenting… this process would inevitably feed back into his subconscious and dream states. Taiji worked and thought in depth. What comes before begets what follows. A repeated pattern. A continuous cycle.

The Bed - Installation by Masako Arita, Jason Cowan and Inga Ilze Peterson

Detail of “The Bed”

As Taiji’s illness progressed his bed takes on a new significance. Whereas before the bed was a fertile ground for his imagination, now the man forcibly resigned to spend so much of his remaining time in bed, must use it to contemplate, reflect upon and prepare for the departure of his physical form from this world.

The Bed - Installation by Masako Arita, Jason Cowan and Inga Ilze Peterson

Detail of “The Bed”

This installation piece, titled The Bed is part of PURE – Taiji Arita Memorial Retrospective and Group Show, and was created by Masako Arita, Jason Cowan, and Inga Ilze Peterson.  The show is up during August 2012 at the Odd Fellows Hall in Mendocino, CA.  Click here for more details about the show, including gallery hours.


Upcoming Taiji Arita Show in Tokyo

Taiji AritaTaiji Arita was an influential commercial and creative photographer in Japan during the 1970’s and 80’s. His avant-garde photo essay First Born, which originally appeared in serial form, will be exhibited for three months in 2012/2013 by Taiji’s former assistant Yoshihiko Ueda at Gallery916 in Tokyo, Japan; the show will be open November 22, 2012 through February 20th, 2013. The show coincides with the publishing of the large format photo book First Born, the book will debut simultaneously at Gallery916 and at Paris Photo 2012, in Paris, France.

PURE – About Taiji and the Retrospective Show – from Show Organizer Jason Cowan

Fruit of the Redwoods Series by Taiji and Masako Arita

A piece from the “Fruit of the Redwoods” series by Taiji and Masako Arita

I first saw Taiji’s work in the spring of 2009 at Luz Harvey’s 3g Gallery in Fort Bragg.  Luz was showing Taiji and Masako Arita’s collaborative series “Fruit of the Redwoods.”  I, like most who saw the work, was awestruck by its beauty and solemnity.  By utilizing salvaged slabs of ancient redwood, fire and the woodworker’s traditional craft of carving into relief, the Arita’s had created not just one, but over 30 strikingly beautiful and wholly unique works of art.  The methods and materials used were primitive, even elemental, and yet the end result was sophisticated, refined and utterly modern. Such is the work of genius.

Admiring as I was of their work, it would not be until the fall of that year that I would finally meet Taiji and Masako. They came to one of the first open studio events that I held with my exploratory small group art project; Studio Odd Hours. They instantly made a very strong impression upon me.  Their presence and demeanor, much like their work, was elegant and self-assured, yet warm and unassuming.  The effect was one of style and taste incarnate.  Over the coming months Taiji and Masako would continue to attend our open studio events, and we would develop a good rapport.

By the spring of 2010 I had decided to put on a large group show, here, at the Odd Fellows Hall.  I wanted Taiji and Masako to join in.  Along with my partner Inga Ilze Peterson, we went to the Arita’s house to meet with them and to discuss our ideas for the show.  To our great pleasure they agreed to participate, and participate they did, significantly so. Between the two of them they created 19 new works of art for the show, including what I consider to be one of Taiji’s finest paintings; the large scale abstract that graces the cover of the book PURE.

Work from the August 2010 Odd Fellows Show

Some of the work by Taiji and Masako Arita included in the August 2010 Odd Fellows group show.

The show was up during August of 2010, and it was at this time that Taiji told me of his illness.

Studio Odd Hours would put on two more group shows during Taiji’s life, and he would contribute work to both of them. These last two shows, one at the College of the Redwoods in March 2011, and the other at the MAC in May 2011, would also feature work from several of the Artists in Fort Bragg’s Art Explorers program.

Taiji passed away in July of 2011.

It was shortly after Taiji’s passing that Masako asked Inga and me for two favors.  1) To produce a book about Taiji’s life in California, and 2) to put together a retrospective of his work.  We of course agreed without hesitation.  Over the coming weeks and months the three of us worked together laying out the details of the project.  One of the first things we did was communicate with Janet Self from FLOCKworks (the non-profit that facilitates the letting of the Odd Fellows Hall).  We were able to secure the August 2012 slot.  The show would open several weeks after the first anniversary of Taiji’s passing, and two years exactly from our initial showing with Taiji.

Though this building could easily be filled with Taiji’s work alone, Masako asked that we invite the Art Explorers to participate as well.  She and Taiji both admired and felt a connection to the honesty and sheer creative drive with which these Artists practice their craft.

As for Inga and myself, though we had both seen and been impressed with examples of Taiji’s work dating back to the 1970’s, it wasn’t until Masako opened up their collective photo archive that we began to understand and appreciate the overwhelming magnitude of this one man’s creative prowess and dedication.  For Taiji, Art was life.  It was in everything he saw, and everything he did, and it was a constant throughout his life.

Outside of his multitude of paintings, photographs, sculptures, drawings, prints, sketches…even the house that he built, this reality of Art as a life force becomes most significant in the manner in which he and Masako approached and documented his illness, the efforts to treat that illness, and ultimately the inevitability of facing his own death.

For Taiji, to make Art was to embrace the natural world, to embrace honesty and unequivocal truths.  In a word Taiji Arita was Pure.

Jason A. Cowan

Join us for Second Saturday Party: PURE Show and PURE Book Launch

Second Saturday Reception:  August 11, 5-8 PM

We are celebrating the life and work of Taiji Arita, this beautiful show and all the artists displaying their work, and also the launch of the new book PURE – Taiji Arita in California: Life and Work by Inga Ilze Peterson and Jason Cowan. Enjoy some refreshments, conversation, and the artwork.

Hope to see you there!

Participating artists:  Michelle Aliotti, Masako Arita, Taiji Arita, Michael Barnes, Jason Cowan, Vicki Dominion, Chris Freitas, Ian Hardie, Pati Martinez, Loreen Maynard, Phillip McDonald, Kevin Pearl, Inga Peterson, Mindy Peterson, Tim Peterson, Michael Smart, John Tone, Jerry Turner, Charles Unser, Frank Van Curen, Lucinda Venegas, Amanda Weaver, Marvin Willrodt, Amanda Winkler

Click here to view a few images of the show…

PURE Show Opens August 4, 2012

Taiji Arita Memorial Retrospective and Group Show

at the Odd Fellows Hall in Mendocino from August 4-25th.
A Second Saturday reception will be held on August 11th from 5-8pm.

Taiji Arita passed away July 17, 2011. He was a consummate artist whose relationship with his own creative force influenced and guided every aspect of his life. Taiji was an artist of unique intelligence, creative vision, skill and dedication. His public art career spanned 40 years and his body of work includes photography, painting, sculpture and design.

PURE will showcase work from the last three decades of Taiji’s life and will include paintings and sculptures from his time in Japan, southern California and Mendocino.

In addition to Taiji’s solo work, the show will include collaborative pieces with his wife Masako Arita, as well as new works from Studio Odd Hours co-founders Jason Cowan and Inga Peterson, and recent art works from each of the 20 members of Fort Bragg’s Art Explorers program.

Coinciding with the show, a new book “PURE – Taiji Arita in California: Life and Work” by Inga Peterson and Jason Cowan will soon be available on Blurb.com – more details to follow…