The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Fern Greenbank
LOG Staff 

Japanese sister city mural underway

 

Courtesy Dot Barderson

The final sketch of the proposed mural to be painted by muralists from Obihiro, Japan and the Seward Mural Society includes multiple iconic figures representing life in Obihiro.

The much-anticipated arrival of artists from Obihiro, Japan is tomorrow, Sept. 5. This time next Thursday, Sept. 13, the mural designed by Seward's sister city artists will be finished. What seems like an easy process, exchanging murals, has been in the works for more than a year.

The design was submitted by a high school art student, Taka Aiyano, in Obihiro. Aiyano's art teacher, Akira Shiota, then refined it to make it paintable as a mural, said Dot Bardarson, a member of the Seward Mural Society. Shiota will be among the art delegation coming to Seward.

Bardarson said the Obihiro artists have been painting a reduced-size replica to be mounted in the city of Obihiro, much as Seward did with the mural design taken to Japan last year. The Seward replica, entitled "Friendship Across Water," is located the East side of Murphy's Lodge facing the ballpark.

"Painting a replica gives artists a sort of dress rehearsal," said Bardarson. "It gives us the opportunity to iron out unforeseen challenges. It also provides a small mural for the city, and a reminder of our sister-city relationship."

The Obihiro design incorporates various features of Obihiro life, history and tradition such as mountains, fireworks, a lake, farming, and their city flower, the Black Lily. Obihiro's official bird is the Skylark. The trees are Obihiro's city tree, the Japanese White Birch. Obihiro is also known for the famous Banei Horse Racing, where giant draft horses are hooked up to heavy sleds to pull them over a course with two hills. This is the only place in the world that has this kind of race exists, said Bardarson.

Courtesy Dot Bardarson

The artists selected to represent Seward's sister city, Obihiro, Japan, are (left to right) Takehide Nosaka, Motoko Natsubori, Chizuko Yamazaki, Kazunori Murai, Midori Ikeda and Akira Shiota.

On Sept. 6, the Japanese artists will attend a welcome party at Bardarson's home where they will be presented with quilts custom made by the Seward Quilters. Starting Sunday, Sept. 7, the Japanese artists and some members of the Seward Mural Society will transfer the design to the panels at the Seward City Church which has donated its sanctuary for the mural project.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, a calligraphy demonstration will be hosted by the library at 3 p.m. by Takahide Nosaka. Then, a "big noisy celebration" will be held at the Brew House, sponsored by the Seward Arts Council, said Bardarson, as part of the council's yearly membership drive. The mural will be unveiled at the party.

Photographer Mike Meeks will be photographing the entire mural process as the city's official photographer and will create a time lapse exhibit of the mural creation.

 

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