gyotaku

Fish, ink, and paper

The most critical element in gyotaku, says instructor Bruce Koike, is getting the eyes right

As a young man, Bruce Koike thought of himself as a science kind of guy, not one particularly interested in art. So when he happened upon a handful of students creating gyotaku — prints created from fish rubbings — at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, he was surprised to find himself drawn to the art.

Thirty-five years later, Koike is known for his masterful prints, as well as his workshops to teach the craft to others. His next is set for Jan. 25 at the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center in Newport.

Koike encountered the Japanese art form in 1985, the same year he started grad school, which led to his master’s degree in fisheries science from the Hatfield Center. He made his first print that summer.

Bruce Koike’s gyotaku print of lingcod incorporates habitat by adding bullwhip kelp to the image, which appeared on the cover of the May 2016 Fisheries magazine, published by the American Fisheries Society.

“I bought a tube of black paint and went to the hardware store and bought a brush, some paper, and gave it a shot,” Koike said. “I still have that print, and it was of a pile perch. It was good enough to keep it.”

His technique evolved over the years, as the self-taught artist learned through trial and error the tricks to creating a print that could truly be called art. One is to remove standing water, likely to be found in depressions on the fish, and not to use too much or too little paint. Ink is applied to the fish with a brush, then paper is laid on the fish and pressed down to transfer the image.

The critical last step is properly capturing the eyes.

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Coast calendar: Here’s to an arty new year

Art exhibits and author readings are among events getting 2020 off to an inspiring start

The first Saturday of 2020 starts with several events in Lincoln County, including two openings at the Newport Visual Arts Center. At 2 p.m., the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts hosts a First Saturday opening reception for the 11 artists chosen from the recent 2019 PushPin Show for the 2020 Mayors’ Show. There’ll be comments at 3 p.m. and the opportunity to schmooze until 5 p.m.

Winning artists include Linda Aguirre (miniature dioramas), Haley Dean (watercolor still lifes), Denise DeMarie (fiber wall sculptures), Graece Gabriel (photography), Sallie Inman (acrylic on wood panels), Susan Jones (woven reed sculptures), Herb Kateley (photography), Bill Posner (photography), Ben Soeby (mixed media on wood), Emy Syrop (gouache and acrylic on paper and canvas), and Jeff Syrop (watercolor and gouache on paper).

Art by Ben Soeby is among the work included in the Mayors’ Show opening Saturday in the Newport Visual Arts Center.

“Being selected for the Mayors’ Show highlights the VAC’s ability to inspire artists,” Jeff Syrop said in a press release. “The inclusiveness of the PushPin Show really jumpstarts artists’ creativity and the Mayors’ Show is an extension of that energy. It’s definitely an honor to be included.”

The Mayors’ Show was started in 2016 by former Newport Mayor — and painter — Sandra Roumagoux and the Oregon Council for the Arts to give more exposure to PushPin Show artists and to build connections between the arts community and city employees and elected officials.

“I happened upon the Mayors’ Show last winter and considered the possibility of being selected for a future year,” participating artist Susan Jones said in a press release. “That singular thought strengthened my commitment to art and inspired the choices I made while weaving my sculptures over the past year. I am excited and encouraged to be honored in this way by my community. We are fortunate to have this kind of support.”

The show will be up in the Runyan Gallery through Jan. 26.

Seal Rock artist Helen Nighthawk’s work in on display in the Upstairs Gallery of the Newport Visual Arts Center.

Also at the center, an exhibit by Seal Rock Artist Helen Nighthawk opens Saturday in the Upstairs Gallery with a public reception from 2 to 5 p.m.

Turning features acrylic and ink paintings on paper and plywood, and wood sculptures. A visual artist and poet, Nighthawk has been painting for more than 50 years. She has been involved with the Nye Beach Banner Project and been a featured artist at libraries around the county. She also worked as a scenic artist for films, television shows, and public and private productions throughout Seattle. Her credits include collaborating with directors David Lynch and Robert Altman. Her show will be on display through Feb. 1.  

AT THE SITKA CENTER FOR ART and Ecology, Saturday is the Resident Show & Tell. Visual artists Lanny DeVuono and Genevieve Robertson and writers-in-residence Maxim Loskutoff and Lydia Conklin will present what they’ve been working on since their arrival in October. Doors open at 12:30 p.m, with presentations starting at 1 p.m. in the Boyden Studio. The event is free and open to the public.

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