Yuka Dan's paper Jan 2005

Yuka Hasegawa

A look at the portfolio of this weekfs cover artist, Yuka Hasegawa, is admittedly a bit confusing. We are immediately struck by the artistfs abstract paintings: unobtrusive still-lifes. We realize they are unusual images, not your standard fruit and vegetable variety. Instead, they suggest in a most subtle way the artistfs tools: brushes, pails, and canvases. The colors range from earth tones to vibrant reds and blacks.

We turn the pages and see other aspects of the artistfs work. This time, fashion photographs greet our eye: a young woman in a variety hats and dresses. The clothes are stunning, and we notice the same earth tones and lively reds/blacks.

Could the model be the artist herself? Indeed, she is. That means Yuka (as she is known professionally) is both a designer and a painter.

Whatfs particularly fascinating is that Yuka accidentally fell into fashion; she also became an artist by being in the right place at the right time as well.

It was 1988, and Yuka was on vacation in New York for the first time. It so happened that a friend asked to meet in front of the School for Visual Arts. The friend was late, so Yuka, possessing the curiosity that we imagine guides her in other endeavors, went into the building, taking a deep breath at what she saw. Students were painting nude models, an unlikely phenomenon at her own art school in Kyoto, Japan.

It was right then and there that Yuka decided to enroll in the school and glive an artistfs life.h She marched into the administratorfs office and within the hour, she had been accepted. Three months later, she was back in New York after resigning her job in Japan; three years after that, she had a second college degree. She pursued art vigorously; through the years, she has had various exhibits in Japan as well as New York.

Even so, Yuka loved making her own hats. Her design career became similar to the one in art, wherein people reacted spontaneously to her fashion sense. For example, a buyer for New Yorkfs Barneyfs saw her at an art opening and asked, gWhere did you get that hat?h The woman asked Yuka to design hats for Barneyfs when she learned that they were her own creations.

Yuka received a BFA at the Fashion Institute of Technology in the late 90s under somewhat similar accidental circumstances. This time, however, someone liked the clothes she was wearing and insisted she study at FIT, where she was given a scholarship. Itfs apparent that serendipity plays a big part in Yukafs life.

Itfs also apparent that Yuka knows her own mind regarding art and design, even though she has had training in diverse art forms. For example, she studied piano for twenty years, performing in the lounge of her fatherfs hotel in Japan. She also learned calligraphy, Japanese dance and worked as a wine consultant. Such a background was garnered by often traveling to other countries; for example, she was sent to Spain by her company to find out about wine.

Regarding Yukafs art and particularly this weekfs cover, a first trip to the Hamptons last summer resulted in a series of nine images. The works resemble a cinematic montage where separate perspectives and times of day produce a complete impression of the area.

The cover piece is a good example of how Yuka has combined her various talents; we see the influence of design and color, the lyrical rhythms of music, the brush strokes recalling calligraphy. In a nutshell, Yuka has it all.

Marion Wolberg Weiss

The slide for the cover was taken by photographer Mark Lee Blackshear.
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