A feast for the eyes and other senses awaits visitors to the new gallery of Fumio Sawa Fine Art, located in the Galleria building at 114 E. Main St., Suite A, which is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. Sawa and his partner Walt Boulden talked about how Sawa produces his eclectic and unusual abstract visual artworks at the gallery on Friday, December 14.
The gallery opened in September with a five-year lease on the space owned by the First National Bank in Trinidad. Boulden said he and Sawa had seen plenty of foot traffic coming in since the grand opening. “Actually we’ve been surprised by how much traffic we’ve been getting,” he said. “We thought it would be really slow since we missed all of the tourist season. About 80 percent of the people who come in are from outside of Trinidad. We’ve had people from New York, New Orleans, Texas, New Mexico, Hawaii and Chicago. So we’ve had people from all over the country in the four months since we opened.
“The Number One universal question is, ‘What are you doing in Trinidad?’ For us the answer is easy. This is where we want to live, and we had to come to the decision of whether we wanted to live where we wanted to live and try to bring customers to us, instead of going to the big cities where the customers were and then not being where we wanted to be. Our goal is someday being able to see people walk into the gallery and expect this kind of art gallery in Trinidad, and make this a destination and not just a tourist stop on their way somewhere else. We’ll be targeting all our marketing on Denver, the Front Range and on into New Mexico and Texas.”
Sawa is originally from Japan and studied art in South Korea. Countless hours go into the production of each of his unique abstract artworks, and experts in the field have been duly impressed by their quality, Boulden said. “We’ve even had an art critic come down from Denver and stop in, and after Fumio kind of walked him through the process of how he creates this art he said, ‘You know, we don’t have a category for you. You’ve stretched it beyond anything I’ve seen.’ Because he’s using tools nobody else is using to create this kind of original art. The critic said he’d think about it and get back to us about how to classify Fumio’s art.”
“It’s absolutely abstract. Nobody else is using a computer as a drawing and painting tool the way Fumio’s doing. The hair on the back of Fumio’s neck kind of stands up when people call it digital art or computer generated art, because it’s not.”
Sawa and Boulden talked about the process of taking Sawa’s original artworks and digitalizing them, which allows Sawa to put ink on canvas. The plan was for each painting to be completely unique, but then requests started coming in for prints from people who couldn’t afford the bigger originals, so they started making limited editions of 25, 18-inch by 18-inch prints of each original artwork. The duo has been collecting antique glass artworks for many years, and those too are on display and for sale at the gallery.
“It’s all hand drawn, line by line,”
Sawa said. “Each section I have to draw and paint. I’m drawing an eye and I have to draw 32 separate lines and then paint the paint into each one.”
It’s more difficult and challenging than oil painting or watercolors, where the paints can be blended, Boulden said. “He puts in 200 to 300 hours on every one of these paintings.”
Boulden’s a Wyoming native who also works at the executive director of the South Central Council of Governments (SCCOG). The couple previously had a gallery in Kansas City, Mo., before moving to Trinidad in 2014 and opening a gallery in the 400 block of West Main Street.
Sawa said he learned many techniques during his four years of studying abstract art. “I developed many techniques as I learned art and built my spirit,” he said. “In those for years I was focusing on developing and refining my work.”
Once Sawa gets the finished artwork on the computer screen, it then goes to a highly sophisticated printer for further production. Once printed, Sawa can then put the paint on the canvas. Boulden stretches the canvas to fit the frame. “It’s a very labor intensive process, but what Fumio doesn’t talk about very much is that he’s got 35 years of oil and water painting backgrounds,” Boulden said. “His composition and his sense of color he takes for granted. But I’ve collected art for a long time and it’s phenomenal, quite honestly. A lot of times you’ll hear people talking about abstract art, but it doesn’t work because they don’t have that basic composition or that sense of color that comes together, so they’re not complete and they just sort of fall off the canvas. His never do that.”
Sawa said all of the hard work had its rewards. “It’s time consuming work but at the same time as an artist I have a mission to be productive in my work, so I have to have some form and ideas in my brain. With these paintings I probably have 100 to 150 techniques that I don’t share with anybody. As an artist I want to be completely unique, and that’s because I want to become famous.”
Boulden noted that it could be hard for an artist to get their works into galleries, because they often have limited space and sometimes only work with a few artists. That’s one of the key reasons for opening Fumio Sawa Fine Art in Trinidad. “When we were in Kansas City we decided that if we were going to show his art the way it needed to be shown, we decided that we were going to have to have our own gallery.”
“This gallery is all Fumio’s design. He conceptualized it and then we laid all the sheetrock, laid all of the tile and did all the construction work ourselves.
Sawa pointed out that each piece of half-inch-thick porcelain tile weighed 22 pounds, each piece laid by hand. That labor of love is on glorious display at this great new addition to the arts scene in Historic Downtown Trinidad.
For more information call 719-680-0739 or go to the gallery’s website at www.fumiosawafineart.com.
Artist uses tools nobody else is using to create own kind of original art