I met Kyoko Nakamoto the first week of January 2019. She is a local artist that displays her art at the boutiques on the military bases here on Okinawa, and I met her at the Marine Gift Shop back in 2019. I was immediately drawn to her art and her vibrant spirit. Over the course of the three years, I have acquired six originals, and I have given a few of her prints away. Needless to say, I am obsessed with her work.
Jan 2019 – Our first piece of art from Okinawa.
The first thing you notice when admiring Kyoko’s art is the scenery. With water displays or European backdrops, her ability to transport you to far-away places is her talent, but the aspect of her art that I enjoy the most is the girls.
The girls are my favorite. If you look closely, you will see her girls doing what girls do. They are swimming. They are drinking wine. They are reading books in hammocks. They are cooking. The girls in the scenes are doing all the fun things – to include taking selfies.
The girls are also quite clumsy and so funny! If you look closely enough, you will see a girl tripping over another, falling and spilling her wine, or even throwing food up in the air as she has tripped over something. In most of the pictures, you have to imagine what she has tripped over, and most of the time, I imagine them tripping over an imaginary line. Have you ever caught your foot on seemingly nothing and had a stumble? I sure have, and when I catch myself, I look around in embarrassment, and I wonder if anyone else saw me. There is nothing more humiliating that tripping over nothing. However, in every piece of work, someone is falling, and every single time I find the falling girl I chuckle. The interesting thing about “the falling girl” is that in real life, there is nothing that makes me more uncomfortable than seeing someone else fall. Even in movies, I get embarrassed for the character who has tripped and fallen. When I hear stories of people falling, I cringe, but for some reason it seems ok in the art. Maybe I know that the rest of the girls are having too much fun doing whatever they are doing to even notice. Maybe I know that the other girls love the fallen girl so much, that they help her clean up and carry on with the fun. No one judges her or her clumsiness in the art. They just continue to run and play. The falling in the art seems ok – like it’s not a big deal after all.
Speaking of running and playing…I loved the running and playing so much that I asked Kyoko to create a piece of art where the girls were running and playing in place that love.
Nature Mirai is one of my favorite places on the island. When we were limited on where we could go during Covid, I spent a great deal of time running. It was one of the few things that I could actually do so I ran every day, and I explored a great deal of the island on foot. One the places that I went most often was down into the Nature Mirai valley, and once there, I could escape the confines of Covid. The valley was my safe haven. Because I wanted a special memory of this place, I asked Kyoko to create a piece of art with the girls in the valley. A couple of months later, the girls were running, swimming, biking, and kayaking in a place where I had spent so much time in real life. They had joined me in the valley. I was so grateful that Kyoko took the time to create this special piece of work for us, and it will always be cherished.
I have this in my bedroom so every day I wake up and think of fun adventures.
Kyoko recently had an exhibit at a beautiful mall down in Naha, and I went down there on the last day of her exhibition. I have been saying, “No” to a lot of invitations lately. Actually, I’ve said no so many times that I fear that people will quit inviting me to do things, but I HAD to make time to see my friend and to support her exhibit. Making the long drive down south was worth the time and effort. Being around my friend was such a treat, and I got to see her newest creations in real life. When you are admiring art, you are no longer thinking about the GRE, big life decisions, or daily obligations. I needed and loved the break.
I loved seeing my friend and her newest creations.
Most of Kyoko’s work is bright, fun, and I picture the girls being loud and crazy, but Kyoko’s most recent creations are quiet and peaceful with not a soul in sight. They are the reality of my time on Okinawa. I love that her most recent works are in muted tones and are of quiet places.
Because I am not a “creative,” I appreciate and honor the work of creatives. Being in their presence is a true gift, and I am honored to know such a kind-hearted, fun, vibrant artist on Okinawa. If you have some time, I encourage you to check out her art. If it doesn’t make you smile, I am not sure what will.