Emily Kiwa Tanaka
My art is inspired by the following. A love for the sea 🧜♀️. My Nikkei, Japanese-American culture 🍙. A fascination with architecture and Long Beach life 🌈. I was born n raised n lived here since the last century. – Emily Kiwa Tanaka
Emily Kiwa Tanaka trained for 12 years in Japanese brush calligraphy. From Cal Poly San Luis Obispo she graduated with an Architecture degree. After a brief career commuting to an engineering office her focus shifted. She is able to spend time making art and volunteering in her neighborhood. Emily Kiwa’s art practice allows her to attempt to capture the ideas floating in her brain, experiment and create things. Here’s a sampling of what she has done.
She created a large painted mural in California Heights Historic District. The mural highlights unique neighborhood icons and moments. Emily Kiwa collaborated with California Heights Neighborhood Association and the local council office to complete this mural. During the pandemic she had the pleasure to paint a Little Free Library in central LB. She shares Long Beach’s aeronautical history on this mini project. For durability she paints murals with Nova Color Acrylic Paint and multiple layers of Nova clearcoat.
Researching a place’s history, and transforming those stories into tiny whimsical illustrations is Emily Kiwa’s specialty. Correspondingly, she uses the skills learned at the engineering office to play with scale. Then she plots enormous drawings or paints these small illustrations into large murals. Additionally, she enjoys coloring them with community members at public events. She has curated coloring activities at the Museum of Latin American Art and in Downtown Long Beach.
Emily Kiwa participated in a 6-month vacant storefront art activation program. Downtown Long Beach Alliance awarded a grant to fund this experiment. In Downtown Long Beach she showcased her art process. The storefront setting provided the privilege and freedom to make so much art. An art show inspired by Long Beach was possible. She honored her great aunt Helen with a memorial as well. She is grateful for the significant gift of time to research and illustrate DTLB architecture too. Halfway through the program, a permanent tenant took over the space. As a result, this offered a chance to activate a second space which quickly rented after her final 3-month activation.
Organizing Art Festivals
Emily Kiwa is a City of Long Beach Neighborhood Leadership Program graduate. In fact, the grassroots training helped her organize five Long Beach Zine Festivals. With her fellow organizers they have been able to bring thousands of people together to celebrate zines in Long Beach. She is grateful to combine her love of art and community organizing with the fest. It warms her heart thinking about it.
Current art projects by Emily Kiwa include:
• LA Metro – Through the Eyes of the Artist – Harbor Gateway | Onboard LA Metro through March 2023
• a zine about rice balls 🍙 and more
• multi directional wall hangings in the shape of or depicting my favorite things