“The Art of Chiura Obata” in Webster Groves’ First Church

Chiura Obata
Chiura Obata

When:  Saturday, September 12th,

Artwork Exhibit opens at 5 p.m.;

a program will follow at 7 p.m.

Where:  First Congregational Church of Webster Groves,

10 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, MO

Free to the public.  For more information, visit www.firstchurchwg.org

The First Congregational Church of Webster Groves will open the celebration of its 150th anniversary with “The Art of Chiura Obata” an exhibit of watercolors and sumi-e by this Japanese American instructor and professor of the University of California – Berkeley.

Old Pine Trees by Chiura Obata
Old Pine Trees
by Chiura Obata
Sunset Water Tower by Chiura Obata
Sunset Water Tower
by Chiura Obata

Each artwork in the Saturday evening exhibit will be accompanied by a floral arrangement in the ikebana style practiced and taught by Haruko Obata, Chiura’s wife. Ms. Obata was one of the first Americans to create arrangements in the ikebana style. The exhibit also will include a presentation about Mr. Obata’s life and work by his granddaughter, Kimi Kodani Hill.

The Obata family spent 1943-45 living in Webster Groves, after more than a year in Japanese American internment camps in California and Utah. First Congregational Church became the artist’s spiritual home when he and his family arrived in 1943.

The transition of the Obata family from the Topaz internment camp in Utah to St. Louis was part of an effort spearheaded by local Congregational churches in response to a 1942 General Council meeting of Congregational Christian Churches. The Council meeting included a resolution which stated, ‘every time a majority deprives a minority of its civil rights it undermines its own liberties, and the unity and world-wide influence of the nation.’

Known for his watercolors and brush and ink drawings (sumi-e), Chiura Obata (1885-1975) was an instructor in the art department of the University of California – Berkeley, starting in 1932; he became a professor there in 1949.

Chiura Obata was one of a number of artists who were instrumental in the California Watercolor School, a discipline whose practitioners believed, as one chronicler has said, “that watercolor could equal oil painting in freshness of execution.” His landscapes of Yosemite are renowned for capturing in simple strokes the wonder of that national park’s natural beauty.


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