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Artist Yumiko Kayukawa talks about her paintings and favorite books.

Readersvoice.com aims to give readers a few good reading tips, so check out previous issues, too, for more book recommendations and interviews.First up this issue, we feature an artist who paints in a style that fuses traditional Japanese painting with U.S. pop culture. Yumiko Kayukawa lives in Sapporo, Japan, and holds exhibitions of her paintings in the U.S. every six months. Yumiko Kayukawa's latest paintings will be exhibited at the Shooting Gallery, San Francisco, this month.

READERSVOICE.COM: Can you list some of your favorite books?

YUMIKO KAYUKAWA: Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind by V.S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee.

When Elephants Weep: the Emotional Lives of Animals, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy.

A Mind to Crime by Anne Moir and David Jessel.

People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck.

RV: What’s your daily routine in Sapporo, Japan?

YK: Week days I go to a day time job ‘till 5pm. Then painting in the evening.

RV: How did you meet your friend Gabi in your comic on your website, and how did your first trip to the U.S.A. happen?

YK: Gabi was teaching English in a small city nearby Sapporo. I met her through a guy friend in her English Teaching program who was a student at my art school. I made my first trip to U.S. 3 years after Gabi left Japan, to visit her.

RV: How do you get your exhibitions started, like the Detroit exhibition at the CPOP gallery?
YK: Gabi was thinking about getting me a show. She asked me to make some paintings and she showed them to an art director for The Stranger magazine to ask his help and he showed his friend who is the owner of Roq La Rue Gallery. She liked it and offered me the show. CPOP contacted my website. Every other gallery contacted me through my website.

RV: Where did you attend art school?

YK: I studied at Bisen Art School in Sapporo. It was a fun time.

RV: Who are some of your favorite Japanese artists?

YK: HAYAO MIYAZAKI – anime director, and TSUBAME KAMOGAWA, UMEZU KAZUO – cartoonists.

RV: What are some of your favorite newspapers and magazines in Japan and the U.S.?

YK: Japanese magazine – Quick Japan; U.S. magazines – Juxtapoz, Giant Robot

RV: How long does it take to do a painting and what are the steps?

YK: About 24-35 hours for each painting. I do 2 pieces at the same time. I do a sketch on paper and then put it to the board. I mask off for the background and paint it flat with a big brush. Then I paint the details, and finally the line is in pen and brush.

RV: With your paintings are you trying to reinvent traditional Japanese paintings and prints, like the ones of women in 19th century woodblock prints?

YK: I wasn’t trying to reinvent it. I haven’t even learnt about it seriously. But if my paintings show that taste, I can say that I might have been inspired by heart.

RV: What are your plans?

YK: To have exhibitions for all of the world. Most of all I want to meet many people.

To see Yumiko’s many paintings check out her website at www.sweetyumiko.com.

-copyright Simon Sandall.