The Fourth of July has got me thinking about what it means to be an American. Like many who live a bit outside the mainstream, I don’t automatically identify with all things American: the flag, baseball, hot dogs, Hollywood and so on. I must confess that I don’t know how to blow gum, I’ve never heard of most of the celebrities in People magazine, and I have yet to grasp the rules of football. But at the same time, because both of my parents chose to leave their homelands of Switzerland and Japan to emigrate to this country, I have a bit of an outsider’s perspective that gives me a special appreciation for all that this country offers.
For my parents, America truly represents the land of possibility, where people are freer than anywhere else to express themselves and to live their lives as they choose. They left behind the rigid social structures and narrow possibilities of Old World Europe and Japan in favor of this big, beautiful country. They understood that this place attracts the world’s most innovative, ambitious, hardworking people and allows them the freedom to fail or succeed on their own terms.
And so it was here in America that a Japanese man met and married a Swiss woman, here where he become a nuclear physicist and she an artist, here where our family raised pet rabbits and llamas, lived in A-frames and yurts, and shaped our lives as much as possible to our hearts’ desire every day.
Of course, this country has some deep-rooted problems, and the promise usually falls short of reality. But as Winston Churchill once said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”
As a second-generation American, I take none of this for granted. I feel fortunate beyond measure that the best of America—the sense of space, freedom, and abundance—is my inheritance. Under these wide skies, anything seems possible. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even learn how football works
Meanwhile, happy Independence Day!
“Fourth of July” is 5" x 7", painted with sumi ink and Japanese gansai paint on paper.
Makino Studios News
Art Opening Friday: For the months of July and August, I will have an exhibit at Persimmons Garden Gallery, located at 1055 Redway Drive in Redway, California. There will be an opening this Friday, July 5 from 6-9 p.m. with live music by the SoHum Girls and the Fabulous Resinaires. For details, see this story in the Redwood Times.
New Retailers in Santa Barbara and Mendocino: I'm delighted to share that, as of this week, my cards can be found at two new California locations: Gallery Bookshopin Mendocino, which last year marked its 50th year in business, and Chaucer’s Books, Santa Barbara's leading independent bookstore.
North Country Fair: Look for the Makino Studios booth at the North Country Fair in Arcata, California the weekend of September 21-22. I will be showing some new art as well as offering cards, prints, tee shirts and books of my work.