An interview of Frank Okada conducted 1990 Aug. 16-17, in Seattle, Wash., by Barbara Johns, for the Archives of American Art Northwest Asian American Project. Okada discusses his parents' background; his family including his brothers, John, author of "No-No Boy," and Charlie, a graphic designer; traveling to Japan for the Pacific Northwest Artists and Japan exhibition; being in an internment camp; painting in Eugene, Ore. and Seattle, Wash.; his painting techniques; studying under Leon Derbyshire; his connection with the jazz scene in Seattle in the late 1940s and 1950s including musicians Sammy Davis, Ray Charles, and Quincy Jones; attending Cornish School of Art, Seattle; meeting Mark Tobey; comparision of his painting style to Tobey's; his stint in the Army; attending Cranbrook Academy of Art and studying with painter Fred Mitchell; his Whitney fellowship in New York; study of Japanese, Chinese, and Zen paintings; working for Boeings in the early 1960s; traveling to France on a Guggenheim; teaching at University of Oregon in Eugene; his minimalist work; influence of Japanese art in his painting. Okada mentions Lawson Inada (Asian American poet), Frank Chin (Asian American playwright), artists David Stone Martin, James Edward Peck, Yayoi Kusama, George Tsutakawa, Paul Horiuchi, Ben Shahn, Kenjiro Nomura, Louis Bunce, Bill Ivey, and art gallery owner Zoe Dusanne.
Biographical / Historical:
Frank S. Okada (1931-2000) was a Japanese American painter based in Seattle, Washington. He taught at University of Oregon from 1969-1999.
Originally recorded on 5 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 9 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hrs., 38 min.
These interviews are part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
Funding for this interview was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.