Sunday, July 20, 2014

Shizuko Greenblatt. Artist Interview in her garden enjoying Japanese Tea. PhotoJournal by Ginger Van Hook

The artwork that Shizuko Greenblatt creates is focused on inspiration, beauty and the promotion of the goodness in our world by utilizing Japanese calligraphy characters, fanciful landscapes of flowers and trees and blended colors of her own creation, which she boasts, she can match perfectly due to her past background as an interior designer.
Some time ago, the artist Shizuko Greenblatt, invited me to join her for an English-Japanese Tea Party in the midst of her garden nestled in the heart of the West side of Los Angeles near the City of Westwood where the Pacific Coast ocean breezes gently sway the clusters of pink Japanese wisteria that hung from their branches. This interview held a personal touch of the beauty that inspires her characteristic positive nature of her artist renderings. Her garden was blooming with geraniums, orange nasturtiums, light blue and purple morning glories, red, orange and pink roses, crimson gladiolas and much more. The tea party was held under the canopy of well-developed bougainvillea bushes draped and climbing along the white wood structure of a square gazebo patio where the sun cast shadows of the patterns on the patio floor. By thinking of her calligraphy characters in my mind, I could visualize Shizuko painting in this field of flowers with soothing strokes and playful patterns.
Shizuko arranged and prepared for our tea party just as carefully as she prepares her canvas for paintings. Her husband Dick, whom she credits for assisting her in the construction of some of her most delicate frame works came out to the table first and took his seat at the head of the glass table facing the expanse of the garden.  “Dick likes to sit right here and drink a glass of wine while looking out about the garden!” Shizuko revealed, as she brought out a tray filled with the English porcelain tea cups and traditional tea kettle.

 She set out a bowl of colorful fruit berries, green grapes, blueberries and strawberries on the shelves of the three tiered serving tray, then brought out a dessert tray of Japanese Flan, Japanese cookies, scones and Swiss chocolate hearts. She came back minutes later with another tray containing the traditional Japanese tea pot and cups as well! Shizuko made many trips to her kitchen along a stone path that lead to the gazebo. She wore a solid green and teal colored top with an elegant skirt layered in chiffon with patterns of tiny delicate flowers and she walked carefully along the path each time.

Meanwhile Dick explained to me the importance of the Japanese Tea Ceremony and how relevant art is to the Japanese people at all levels education. Dick described how all the Japanese people are creative throughout their culture that even the men who drive trucks in Japan know how to appreciate, read and write poetry such as the Haiku style of literature. “Sue collects tea sets,” Dick added, “She’s got so many of them!” he exclaimed, “She just loves the tea sets from different eras and different countries in Europe and Asia.” The two of them admitted they have traveled a great deal around the world appreciating the arts and visiting relatives. 

Thus here in her garden, Shizuko revealed an inner peacefulness that is present in her art. Even the conflicts of the outer world feel soothed in the space between her signature letters and sculpted framed pieces. Her solo show at the LA ARTCORE at Union Center for the Arts finds Shizuko Greenblatt surrounded by her friends, fellow artists, admirers and family. The collection of photographs by Ginger Van Hook that are included with this story is a three part documentation of our first opportunity to work together to photograph Shizuko’s solo show at Los Angeles Art Association, at Gallery 825,  a show at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena and our recent Japanese tea together. Shizuko Greenblatt was included in both the Los Angeles International Airport Show as well as the  current Ontario International Airport Exhibition titled: “Out of Thin Air” Curated by Ginger Van Hook and sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs, LAWA (Los Angeles World Airports) and Scott Canty, Director/Curator with the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall.

It is my pleasure and privilege to bring you these images of a period of time that I was introduced to her style of painting and to have personally enjoyed her art works and followed this artist, Shizuko Greenblatt since we met, sometime in 2008. ~ Ginger Van Hook.

Los Angeles artist and curator Shizuko Greenblatt combines Japanese characters and fusion ikebana with Western expressionistic sensibilities in her mixed-media sculptures and paintings.  The artist's joining of elements of Eastern and Western cultures, revels here, in the aesthetic  possibilities of the shared moment between cultural perspectives as it produces something new, propelled by vibrantly-orchestrated  compositions and arrangements.  

An uncanny sense of design and vision pervades all of Greenblatt's works: Controlled elements of gradated color or a Japanese character give way to the natural flow of an ascending tree branch or gestural brushwork. Indeed, balance is a fundamental quest in Greenblatt's approach. Her desire is to communicate a positive and inspiring message through not only through the use of balanced elements - the weight of a line, the thickness of paint or the proportions between natural and plastic elements- but of the characters themselves which carry such associations as "Passion for Life", "Go Forward" and "Infinite Growth". Greenblatt comments that these messages underlie all of her works if not explicitly, then implicitly. But after all, Greenblatt's objective is to create: Whatever character or material she uses is only a beginning point to modification or alteration in order to take it somewhere unexplored.  

Artist Reception:
Sunday, June 2nd, 2013
3pm - 5pm
Conversation with the artist: 4pm

LA Artcore at Union Center for the Arts
120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Gallery hours: 12-5pm, Wed-Sun.

And on another studio visit in 2010, Shizuko invited us all to enjoy a mimosa breakfast. We enjoyed a meal under the canopy of bougainvillas and morning glories cascading along the patio gazebo. Pictured below, artist Shizuko and Dick Greenblatt  Artists Michal Giancriastiano and Luke Van Hook, Artist Karen Frimkess-Wolfe and her husband Ron, and Artists Richard Bruland and Dori Atlantis: