May 2007

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the title of this drawing is “poko de ippai”, which is japanese for “full of poko”. maybe you don’t know if you don’t usually read this blog, but poko is my nickname for my unborn baby. i named it “poko-chan” (as if it was a name, Poko) because it was making “poko-poko” bubbling movements inside of me when i first felt it moving. now i’m in my 39th week of pregnancy and i can’t think of anything else but poko-chan. my head is full of many many poko-chans. but i don’t know what poko-chan’s face looks like, so i can’t draw the details of it yet.

i went to see my obstetrician yesterday. she said that my cervix is mostly effaced and dilated 1 to 2 cm. my baby is very low, she could feel the head. i’ve been experiencing some braxton hicks contractions. for some of them, my lower back feels really heavy and dull pain like menstrual cramps and my belly gets hard like a rock. they last for about 20 minutes each. it looks like my body is getting ready for labour. poko-chan, hang in there! let mama finish moving before you come into the world…

i’m taking part in broadway art encounter again this year, starting tomorrow. i’ll be showing this drawing as well as this and this at al’s broadway shoe repair shop. i showed my works at his shop last year as well. he kindly offered to have me show at his shop again.

broadway art encounter is an event where shops on broadway avenue generously open their shops as galleries. there is expected to be a bigger crowd than usual this year because the university of saskatchewan is hosting the 2007 congress of the humanities and social sciences this week. i hope you can come out and see the exhibits! i’m going to be walking around saturday afternoon, as long as i’m not in labor.

Broadway Art Encounter
June 1 ~ 2 (Fri & Sat)

Al’s Broadway Shoe Repair
638 Broadway Avenue,

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there is a review of my show at the mendel art gallery in this week’s edition of planet S, saskatoon’s city magazine. i’m happy to find that the reviewer understands what i’m doing, with the review titled “the beauty of grotesque”. the reviewer says “[my drawings] are seeming to be part of a larger whole that Yamaguchi is pointing toward”. i think my drawings make sense when they are seen all together, as part of one experience. that’s why i like to hang as many drawings on one wall as possible, maybe not even using frames so they can all be close together. that way, nothing is separating my drawings from each other, and also, i don’t have to buy frames.

i also like the ending part: “This juxtaposition, creating a place where we can neither be only horrified or simply think happy, cutesy thoughts makes Yamaguchi’s work both enjoyable and memorable.” i can’t separate those feelings in my mind. they are not opposites to me, they are all living in my head at the same time. i guess my art work is kind of like “yami-nabe style”. everything is all mixed together, and you never know what you’re going to get.

here is the review:

The Beauty Of Grotesque

by Bart Gazzola


Yuka Yamaguchi is currently exhibiting at the Mendel Art Gallery, through an ongoing gallery project titled “Artists by Artists.” The project pairs an experienced artist (in this case, Yuka is paired with noted Saskatoon artist and frequent Planet S contributor extraordinaire Dave Geary) with a more emerging one, with the resulting work exhibited in the lower space at the Mendel.

Over the past few years, the concept has been interpreted in different ways by the different participants: sometimes the result features solely the work of the junior artist, and other times a collaborative installation takes place. In regards to the current installation, Yamaguchi explains on her website that the pair made the decision to collaborate on Personal : Political because Geary’s work, with its propaganda motifs and socialist imagery is the latter, whereas Yamaguchi’s work seems to be very much biographical—a personal narrative that is being shared with the viewer.

Yamaguchi was also one of a number of artists who exhibited at the now-defunct Royal Red Gallery: her small, delicate drawings immediately pulled the viewer in, even in that massive space—and they’re as well-executed as they are disturbing. Her bio describes her as a self-taught artist, from Kobe, Japan, stating that “her drawings are inward-looking, reaching both extremes of cute and grotesque.” Very simply done, with coloured pencil or ballpoint pen—and always seeming to be part of a larger whole that Yamaguchi is pointing towards—her works are indicators that sometimes art school can be the worst thing for a potential artist. Her unique, bizarre vision could easily have been lost there, or subjected to the usual problem of instructors wanting to create younger versions of themselves.

Works such as “New Heartbeat”, where a young girl holds her very anatomically correct heart to her ear in a gesture of love or listening, or “After All…”, where a boy is partly flayed by what looks like a common kitchen utensil, easily fit within the grotesque. But “Chicken Fight”, or “Self Portrait, Age 17”, are both . . . well, cute. Not a word I use often, but it applies here.

Some works incorporate both of these seemingly disparate concepts, such as “Inseparable”, where a cute, pre-teen couple are tying themselves together by their respective hanging tendons and muscles, which hang in ribbons from their severed calves. Both are smiling, and seem pleased with the arrangement, and I am reminded of the Japanese horror film Audition, which was really a love story, with the classic admonition that “you must love only me.” “All I Can See” is both creepy and very, very funny, and will make some men reconsider before they carry on a conversation with a woman’s breasts instead of her face.

On her website ( she explains that her latest endeavour is the “turn everything around you cute and fun” project, and her sense of humour is clear in her work, although sometimes that humour at play is somewhat black. This juxtaposition, creating a place where we can neither be only horrified or simply think happy, cutesy thoughts makes Yamaguchi’s work both enjoyable and memorable.

also, it looks like i am on Bravo!News this week. i was interviewed by them back in april. i don’t have a cable connection at the moment (we’re moving this week), so i don’t know. i was also interviewed by the local Shaw TV channel. the interview aired in mid-april. again, i didn’t watch tv enough to catch it. if you are watching tv sometime tomorrow in canada, you might see me actually talking.

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i just made a birthday card for a seven-year-old boy named shane, from lancaster, ontario. he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of five. he made a wish this year – he would like to break the world record for the most birthday cards ever received. his goal is 350 million cards. so far, he has received 125,000 cards. his birthday is may 30th.

i was contacted by one of my contacts on flickr. i thought i should spread the word.

if you would like to wish him a happy birthday, here is the address:

Shane Bernier
PO Box 484
Lancaster, Ontario
K0C 1N0

for more about his story, visit his website.


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there is an interview with me in a new issue of milk magazine, from hong kong. apparently, the editor came to my blog and liked it, so i was contacted about showing my drawings in the magazine. it happened very fast — once i said yes it only took a week before the issue was published with my drawings in it. they mailed me several copies from hong kong, and i just got them.

milk magazine is a weekly magazine about fashion, music, design, culture, entertainment, trends etc. the writer who contacted me said their audience is mostly 18 – 35 years old. the graphic design work is stylish and the content is interesting. i can’t read chinese, but i could decipher some of the chinese characters that are also used in japanese.

for this issue, they featured 12 of my drawings including “new heartbeat”, “my secret elephant”, and “all i can see” — in eight pages in colour! they were kind enough to let me choose which drawings i wanted to show.

click images to enlarge (slideshow)

the last page of the article is the interview. the writer interviewed me by email, in english. he asked about my bio and for some stories related to my drawings. i can’t read the chinese version of the interview, but i guess it’s a literal translation with some editing. this is how the interview went:

were you born in japan? where were you born?

i was born in kobe, japan.

did you go to high school in japan or overseas?

i graduated high school and university in japan. i have a degree in social work.

did you study at any art schools in japan or overseas? what is the name of the school?

i’ve never taken any art classes. i’m self-taught. i like to teach myself how to draw by drawing. i’m not interested in art theory or history. i don’t like to think about what i do in that way. so i’m glad i never went to art school.

when did you move to saskatchewan? how long have you benn living in saskatchewan?

i’ve been living in saskatoon, SK since summer 2005. i moved to canada back in 2000, though. i’ve also lived in winnipeg, manitoba and kingston, ontario.

why did you move to saskatchewan?

my husband got a job here, so we moved. i like living on the flat, flat prairie. when i stand in a big prairie field, i really feel like i’m standing on the earth. i especially like to listen to spacious electronic music (like microhouse) while driving under the vast prairie sky, surrounded only by sound and atmosphere. it feels good.

when did you start drawing?

i started drawing when i was three or so. my grandma would give me some paper to draw on, and i just loved it. i used to draw in my notebooks now and then, but i started drawing more seriously in 2004. that was the first year that i showed my work in public. now i show my work on my blog ( and at gallery shows and street fairs. i like seeing how people react to my drawings. it’s amusing.

what kind of art do you like?

i like art that makes me want to touch it and get inside its world. i tend to like photography and film more than painting or drawing. i don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the art world, or what kind of work other people are doing. i know what i like, but i can’t explain what it is.

what is your inspiration of your drawing?

images appear in my mind whenever i’m sad, mad, happy hurt, or sentimental – which happens a lot. i don’t have any tricks to come up with ideas. i spend most of my time lost in my own mind. ideas just come to me as i’m going through my daily life, even though i can’t see the connection between what i’m doing and those images. as soon as i get an image, i try to draw it right away. i don’t think much about what it means. i just start drawing, paying attention to my technique, the colours, and the facial expressions. what you see in my drawings is what i’ve got in my mind.

when did you start to sell your drawings – prints/ originals?

i started selling my work at street fairs and art festivals when i came to saskatoon. i also opened an online shop in 2006. people from around the world can come to my online shop and buy my prints, original drawings, postcards, and useless toys. it was quite a bit of work to set up, but it’s great – i enjoy sending my work to foreign addresses where i’d like to visit someday, and imagining my drawings hanging on someone’s wall. at the same time, i really enjoy showing and selling my work at street festivals. i find it more stimulating than showing my work in an art gallery, because i can see the reactions right on the spot. i get such a nice response from all sorts of people on the street, not just the types who go to art galleries. i prefer people to come across my work in their daily lives, including online, not just in a gallery where they go specifically to look at “art”. i get more natural responses on the street – if people don’t like it, they’ll tell me. i think that’s great. it just makes me want to draw more and better.

do you have any new plan from now on?

i’m always trying to improve my technique so i can realize the images in my mind more precisely. at the same time, i don’t want to forget that better technique doesn’t mean better work. in the end, i’m doing this for my own enjoyment. i’m going to keep on drawing images that make me laugh.

can you tell me which is your most favorite work? and the reason why?

it’s hard to choose. it depends on my mood. right now my favorite drawing is called “new heartbeat”. i drew it after i found out i was pregnant for the first time. i went to the doctor and listened to the baby’s heartbeat on the monitor. it was still so early in the pregnancy that i couldn’t tell anyone except my husband. but i just had to do that drawing, because it was living inside of me.

the writer showed my favorite drawing, “new heartbeat”, on a full page and sent me a proof of the article as a souvenir. he was very thoughtful from start to finish.

since this article appeared i’ve noticed more and more visitors from hong kong, and people have been contacting me to say hello. thanks for stopping by!

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a local dj, jon vaughn invited me to take part in a group show, called “batchsplash” at scyap here in saskatoon. this is an art show combining drawings, paintings and videos.  i’m showing this drawing, called “reedllik”, as well as this and this.

jon vaughn and jon jones curated the show, featuring lots of local artists. here’s the lineup:

Drawings, Paintings and Videos by

Music by:

Video by:

i’m happy to be able to take part in this show. i love watching jon vaughn. he came over to pick up my drawings the other day. his outfit is always awesome. he was wearing a badge on his jacket that said, “saskatoon magic”. yes. he is magical.

the show started on may 8th, but the opening reception is today, may 18th at 7pm. the concert starts at 8pm – 2am. if you can make it, please drop in at scyap and come and have fun at the reception!

curated by Jon Jones + Jon Vaughn
May 8th-June 8th

Friday, May 18th
Opening 7pm
Concert 8pm-2am

253 3rd avenue, south
saskatoon, sk

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i got my first driver’s license yesterday. i avoided getting one for a long time. i preferred walking and taking public transportation to driving a car. in kyoto, i used to ride my bicycle to work, 40 minutes each way. my bicycle was my favorite mama-chari (mama style bicycle, with only one gear, like this one from muji). in japan the trains are very convenient, so you can go almost anywhere easily. but in canada, it’s hard to get around without a car, and so many of the shops are in the suburbs along busy roads. now that i have a baby coming i’ll need to be able to go somewhere in the car without waiting for paul to come home and drive.

so i took some lessons and practiced my driving. i expected that i would have trouble paying attention when i’m driving, because i always get distracted so easily. but i found i can do it, even though sometimes i’m nervous. the hardest part of the driver’s test was parallel parking — it took me 3 tries. but it got it!

here’s a rapping lesson for all of you drivers. watch out for the NO ZONES!…

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(click the image to view close up)

rinjyu means end, deathbed or one’s last breath. adding “go” at the beginning makes it more polite. this is something a doctor would say at the deathbed, when someone takes their last breath.

apparently my right hand is dead and worthless…

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part I

part II

amazing… i especially like part I.

giovanni sollima is a cellist and post-minimalist composer. part I is his song “Terra Aria” and part II is “Concerto Rotondo”.

this video was directed by lasse gjertsen, who is famous for his homemade youtube videos, like “amateur”:

i love this — it’s a great song. he says he can’t play the piano or the drums, but he’s an amazing musician anyway, just from editing.

you can see more lasse gjertsen on videosift.

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“same” means shark. by adding “ko (meaning child)” at the end it makes a female name.

i’ve been thinking about what to name poko-chan for real. i came up with some names, but it’s hard to decide which one is the best until i see the face of poko-chan.

i’m trying to come up with some names that sound both english and japanese. i also have to find good kanji to go with it. it seems there are thousands of choices…

for my name, 夕香 – yuka, my parents chose “夕 – evening” for “yu” and “香 – fragrant” for “ka”. i really like my name even though some canadians have trouble saying my name correctly. they call me yuku, yuko, yuki, etc…  i say “yes” to everything because i’m a good japanese citizen.
hopefully paul and i will be able to come up with a good name in four weeks. or we might stick with poko-chan after all…

ps. sameko-chan is eating apollo chocolate. someone gave me a box of mini apollo chocolate the other day. it put me into a nostalgic mode. i used to eat this when i was little. i had to draw it. of course, my apollo chocolate doesn’t come with chocolate.

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