The Masterpieces of Chiura Obata
My youngest son, Sean, surprised me this Christmas with a calendar. Now, on its face, that's not much of a gift. But what immediately caught my eye, and which shows that my 17-year-old son actually does recognize my love of national parks, is that the calendar celebrates a Japanese artist who captured the splendors of Yosemite National Park in the early 1900s.
Chiura Obata came to the United States in 1903 and worked for a while in California as an illustrator and commercial designer. During this period he traveled to Yosemite. The watercolors he made during these trips are striking, both for their honesty in capturing the landscape and for the colors Obata used to interpret what he saw.
When he returned to Japan in 1928, his watercolors were transformed into a limited edition collection of woodcuts titled, "World Landscape Series -- America." You can glimpse some of these woodcuts here.
Not only does Obata's artwork live on in calendars, but a book of his work, including portions of his journal, was later published by the Yosemite Association in 1993. You can find this book on Amazon.com.