Studio Visit: Hiro Yamagata at Bielanski-Gallup Studios

(photo: July 27, 2017 Hiro with David Gallup at studio in Santa Rosa, CA)

Flash back to 2002... I just purchased a condo in Palm Springs and started to update the whole 3 bedroom/1 bath space… when I found myself walking around Home Depot looking for tile and hear a voice… “Are those crystals?” I turn to see a man, bright eyes looking into mine… asking about the multiple bracelets I was wearing on my left wrist… “Yes, all crystals… bright and colorful.” I replied. We then had an interesting conversation of Q&A, about where I got them, and how his daughters might like them, and what I was doing with my condo, and how we were both artists. We exchanged contact info and went our separate ways.

A bit later he invited me to his “studio” on PCH in Malibu. Thinking I was going to a smaller type place since the art I knew him for was on the smaller very detailed side… only to be totally taken aback at the full almost a block long three story building, multiple layers and processes space I walked into. The initial staircase took me up and up past floors of installs and work in progress. I must say, I have never seen the likes of this type of creativity since. I very much enjoyed our conversations and learning about his art. We had a few other conversations and then our lives took different paths and we fell out of touch.

Fast forward to July, 2017 at David Gallup studio in Santa Rosa, CA…

I received an unexpected email inviting me to an afternoon with Hiro Yamagata at the Bielanski-Gallup Studios to hear Hiro talk about his life as an artist,  and share the events of the last 12+ years and what drove him from the height of fame and wealth to embrace a Taoist, simple lifestyle far from the camera’s eye, creating paintings few people will ever get to see.

The home/studio is situated on a leveled hill top at the end of a downward road. All white with an unobstructed view of the hills around it…simply beautiful. David and wife Nansi’s art was placed around on walls bringing color to an otherwise monotone decor. Beautiful water scenes and collaborations…I felt comfortable and welcome.

It was a small gathering of artists from the Santa Rosa area, some were students of David. All had interesting experiences to share… I think I was the only one who had personally known Hiro. We learned that Hiro was driving down from Northern California and would be here shortly. I wondered if he would remember me. When he arrived he did remember me… we talked a little, sharing what happened in our lives over the years.

After eating a light lunch, we gathered in the studio to hear about Hiro’s life and journeys, his land in northern California and the very large work he is making now… we asked many questions and explored David’s work at the end.

I’m looking forward to the next gathering… soon I hope.

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