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  • Writer's pictureAsian Avenue

The Artistic Insight Barbara Takenaga

L to R: Joni Sakaguchi and DJ Ida (Sakura Foundation board members), Barbara Takenaga, Gary Yamashita (Sakura Foundation Executive Director), Stacey Shigaya (Sakura Foundation Program Director) and Jennifer Doran (Owner and Director, Robischon Gallery). Photo Credit: Robischon Gallery.

In celebration of May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Sakura Foundation was proud to host a reception and gallery talk for New York artist Barbara Takenaga. The event was held on May 17 at the Robischon Gallery in downtown Denver. The Foundation is grateful for the assistance and support of gallery co-owner Jennifer Doran and her team who were instrumental in making the event a great success.

More than 50 guests came to view the exhibit and hear Takenaga talk. Some have followed Takenaga’s work for years, stretching back to her days of living in Colorado where she received her BFA and MFA at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Others had never seen her work but were interested in hearing what Takenaga had to say about her journey as an artist.

Takenaga has always pushed herself to explore new and exciting territory and began what she called her cosmic paintings in early 2000. Over the years her art has shifted from mesmerizing swirls and dots that draw the viewer in, to more expansive work of geometric patterns that undulate as she incorporates paint which subtly changes color as one views the painting from different angles.

At the gallery event, Takenaga spoke about her life as an artist and admitted that growing up in North Platte, Nebraska did not afford her many opportunities to interact with other Japanese Americans. She never considered herself a JA artist per se, but chuckled when she admitted that the Japanese sense of design somehow manages to find a place in her art, no matter how subtle, and has been evident in her artwork for years. In spite of her success as an artist, she remains very down-to-earth and approachable. People left the gallery happy with a newfound appreciation for a talented artist who is influenced by Japanese graphic design yet is clearly someone who is her own person.

Barbara Takenaga’s exhibit is on display in the Robischon Gallery through July 6, 2019. The gallery is located at 1740 Wazee Street, Denver 80202. A book of Takenaga’s masterful art is available online at

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