Artist Kazuhiko Nagaki touches up his mural at the Heritage Park during a visit in 2013.

Artist Kazuhiko Nagaki touches up his mural at the Heritage Park during a visit in 2013.

Sister city art connection highlighted in new Ashcroft display

Japanese artist Kazuhiko Nagaki, whose mural adorns the Heritage Park, has a display of artwork up for viewing throughout September.

Alice Durksen

Many people have seen and enjoyed the Bifuka mural in the Heritage Park on Railway. It depicts an important cultural heritage site close to Ashcroft’s sister city, Bifuka, on the island of Hokkaido, Japan.

In 1997 local artists Jo Petty and Royden Josephson and a number of Ashcroft Secondary students travelled to Bifuka and painted a mural reflecting our Canadian culture and heritage. In 2000 Japanese artist Kazuhiko Nagaki, then an employee of Bifuka,  Mrs. Hiroko Tosaka, another artist, and a number of Bifuka high school students came to Ashcroft and painted the Heritage Park mural.

During the summer of 2013,  Nagaki returned to Ashcroft to visit and to touch up the Bifuka mural. Over time, the materials that our artists received to paint their mural began to break down in the elements, so Petty and Josephson returned to Bifuka in 2015 and painted a new mural there.

This is the formal sister city art connection. The informal connection is that Nagaki is a well-known artist in northern Japan, as well as active in staging productions, art shows, and shows for charity, and arranging “remade” kimono shows. He has since retired, and been elected as a city councillor for Bifuka. Many of his paintings were on show in Vancouver some years ago, with Aki and Hiroko Kanamaru’s oversight. Some of these paintings are in Ashcroft, and will be shown at the Sidewalk Gallery during September.

Abstract in nature, his canvases reflect the h.a.n.a. composition. H.a.n.a. means “flower” in Japanese, but  Nagaki has used this theme to describe life. An optimist at heart, he  recognizes that we all have ups and downs in life. In his paintings, delight and success are portrayed in bright, vibrant colours, in contrast to the darker images which represent struggle or frustration. Lines represent words and feelings.

One of the paintings that will be on display in the Sidewalk Gallery in September. Photo by Barbara Roden

Thanks to Angela Bandelli for her work in keeping art alive all year round in the windows of the Sidewalk Gallery on Railway Avenue. As art from the Ashcroft Art Club Artwalk 2016 comes down at the end of August at the gallery, Mr. Nagaki’s art will go up for all to enjoy for the month of September.