hope

Remembering the Great East Japan Earthquake

“when someone you love” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper, and digitally edited. It is available as a  sympathy card . © Annette Makino 2016

“when someone you love” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper, and digitally edited. It is available as a sympathy card. © Annette Makino 2016

I’m writing on the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan. It’s so hard to lose someone you love; multiply that grief by the nearly 16,000 people killed in the 2011 disaster, and the amount of suffering unleashed is overwhelming.

In addition, more than 200,000 people are still displaced from their homes, and the Fukushima nuclear plant continues to dump radioactive water into the sea.

And yet, we are such a resilient species. Japan is busy rebuilding, restoring and recovering.

My husband Paul happens to be in Hiroshima today, chaperoning a group of high school students. He reports that the city has emerged from the horror of the atomic bombing to become a lovely and vibrant place. The people of Hiroshima have transcended the nightmare of the past.

I’m sharing two paintings here. The piece above is a recent painting of an egret flying over a tilted marsh landscape. The words are adapted from a poem I wrote for my father after he died four years ago; he would have been 86 tomorrow. The piece is a close-up and personal portrait of loss. (See On Love and Loss and a Man Named Quantum.)

“May a thousand cranes” is 9×12, painted with ink on rice paper. © Annette Makino 2011

“May a thousand cranes” is 9×12, painted with ink on rice paper. © Annette Makino 2011

I painted the piece of flying cranes, left, in March 2011, a couple days after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Along with my first-ever blog post, A Prayer for Japan, it interweaves my personal connection to Japan with a prayer for healing and recovery.

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

New card designs: I have been busy painting, and just got eight new card designs back from the printer! You can find them in my Etsy shop or view them in my online gallery. They are also making their way into stores.

Kamome, The Boat of Hope: Two years after the tsunami, a small wooden boat from a high school in Japan washed up in Crescent City, California, about 75 miles north of Arcata. The Extraordinary Voyage of Kamome: A Tsunami Boat Comes Home tells the story of how the boat has linked two communities across the Pacific. Thisbeautifulchildren’s book was written by Lori Dengler and Amya Miller and illustrated by my friend Amy Uyeki.

Japan in June: My family is heading to Japan for three weeks in June! This will be our first trip there together. We are still planning our itinerary, but I am very much looking forward to finding new ideas and inspiration for art and haiku.

I read the news today, oh boy

“rustling leaves” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. A greeting card version reads, “I’m so glad you were born.”

“rustling leaves” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. A greeting card version reads, “I’m so glad you were born.”

Is it just my imagination, or is the news worse than usual? In the Middle East, after killing two American journalists, ISIS has just beheaded a British aid worker, and we are sliding deeper into a military campaign that no one really wants. In Africa, Ebola is rampaging virtually unchecked while fear spreads even faster. All around the world, climate change is wreaking havoc, yet our political leaders seem unable to take meaningful action on the most pressing issue of our time, not just for our species but for all others.

It’s enough to make me want to stay in bed with a heaping supply of chocolate.

But instead of succumbing to despair, yesterday I went to the farmers' market on the Arcata Plaza with my family. We heard a great steel drum band play “Happy” while kids and adults danced and hula hooped around the lawn. We bought fresh organic strawberries, peaches, corn, heirloom tomatoes and flowers grown in our area. And we caught up with friends in the warm sunshine.

Every Saturday morning from April through November, the combination of beautiful local produce, live music, and smiling people creates a kind of magic in the heart of our small town—an alchemy of joy.

Heirloom tomatoes at the Arcata farmers’ market.

Heirloom tomatoes at the Arcata farmers’ market.

This is not the stuff of headlines, but markets like this and other examples of people getting together to create something good—PTA meetings and choirs and grange breakfasts—are the antidote to all those dark news stories. This is how we weave the strands of community, week after week, one zucchini at a time. This is how we celebrate our connections to each other and to the land that sustains us. This is how we “poke holes between worlds,” how we build trust and understanding of each other despite our differences.

When my husband and I first traveled to China in 1996, the government-run People’s Daily had a front-page headline one day with this breaking news: “Ethnic Groups Live in Harmony.”

Well, isn’t that nice?

I’m not suggesting that our newspapers should run feel-good propaganda. We need to know what’s really going on out there. But it is helpful to balance out the depressing daily news by focusing on all the things that are going right with our world. In small everyday ways, we can beat back despair and nurture the hope that is the catalyst for action.

Eating farmers' market strawberries with a bar of Green & Black’s dark chocolate helps too.

Makino Studios News

North Country Fair: Humboldters, come celebrate the fall equinox at the 41st annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza 10-6 this weekend, September 20 and 21. I'll have paintings, prints, cards and calendars at my Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.

Two-Woman Show: I’m excited to team up with mixed media artist Amy Uyeki for an art exhibit at the Adorni Center in Eureka, CA during the month of November.

Poetry & Honey 2015 Calendar: My new wall calendar for 2015 is now available in 18 stores and online. This is a 16-month mini-calendar with the month grids for September-December 2014 and 12 pages of art for 2015.

New Stores North and South: Several new stores are now carrying my art cards and calendars. Check out the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego; Wild Rivers Market and Del Norte Office Supply, both in Crescent City, CA; and The Crown Jewel in Ashland, OR.