Obata's Granddaughter Is Also His Curator

Article excerpt

KIMI KODANI HILL, Chiura and Haruko Obata's granddaughter, now lives with her husband in her late grandparents' house in Berkeley, Calif. She has been designated by the family as curator of her grandfather's work.

"He himself wasn't a very good curator," Hill said with a laugh in a telephone interview. "Things were stashed and forgotten; things left the house that never came back. But after he died it was clear to me that he regarded the Yosemite work as important."

In the summer of 1927, Obata went to Yosemite with fellow artists Worth Ryder and Robert Howard. During his six weeks there he was amazingly productive, making more than 100 paintings as well as letters and postcards that burst with beauty and charm and poetry.

"There was an incredible amount of junk in the house along with incredible treasures," Hill said. In the process of sorting it out, she became interested especially in the Yosemite material.

She doesn't read Japanese, but she enlisted the help of a friend to do a translation. Her grandmother was still alive then, and she helped decipher the old Meiji-style handwriting. …