Kazuko Watanabe is a graduate of the San Francisco Academy of Art University and has taught classes on printmaking at both the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley and the University of California, Berkeley. Her multiple color intaglio prints are meticulously crafted in a way most printmakers shy away from due to the inordinate amount of time and patience needed for this particular medium. She handles these stubborn metallic plates with such ease and subtlety that the viewer is generally unaware of the fantastic craftsmanship that is employed to generate the beautiful abstract compositions and delicate color gradations.
Ms. Watanabe was the recipient of The 1999 Library Fellows Award from The National Museum of Women in Arts Foundation in Washington D.C. for her bookmaking.
My last solo exhibition in 2002 marked the end of a period of intense observation. Illness had confined me to my bed under a skylight in Northern California. My digital camera captured thousands images of the always-changing sky above and around me. For me these images I took have caught transitory light and shadow seemingly fused with the sounds and even smells of those moments.
In the four years that followed my observations deepened, less in terms of photography than in evolution of viewpoint. I compared these images of the California sky with images from other states and countries. Each region has a sky of unique character with its own sense of height and depth, length, time, and color. In some other regions, such as around my hometown in Japan, the sky in fall extends vertically, endless in its ever‑deepening blue. The green aspect of the Northern Italian sky has a special softness and substance that gives it texture and intimacy. In the endlessly horizontal shallow blue of California, nearby objects melt into the nearly transparent color of their celestial background. The bright California light races along the horizon, always expanding, spreading vastly without depth, with my sorrow and joy following it.
“Leaping Silhouette” and the series, “Recording Sky Blue” reflect how my views have developed over these last four years.
California, January 2006