Fumio Sawa

Popular local artist Sawa captures first, second place prizes at Colorado State Fair

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Trinidad artist Fumio Sawa stands with his work titled “Tree Sparrow” that won second place in the professional level digital art competition at the Colorado State Fair that was held Aug. 23 to Sept. 2 in Pueblo.

One of Trinidad’s finest local artists, Fumio Sawa, two weeks ago won both first and second place in the professional category for digital fine art at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo.

Fumio’s large piece, Raijin – God of Thunder, won first place, while a smaller piece, Tree Sparrow, won second place.

In addition to winning these two prizes, Fumio was also selected by the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Cultural Affairs Center to have a one man show next summer. This is an honor for which only one artist across all professional artist categories is chosen.  

Fumio is well known in our local artistic community not only for his remarkable painting skills but also for bringing to Trinidad a stunning gallery, Sawa Fine Art at 114 E. Main, Suite A in the new First National Bank Galleria building. The gallery was designed and is run by Fumio and his partner, Walt Boulden. The gallery gleams with white marble and offers a perfect showcase for Fumio’s art.

Fumio Sawa was born in the U.S., raised in Japan, as the latest in a long line of first sons in the Samurai warrior tradition. He was trained in swordsmanship.  It was a life of high and strict expectations. He was not allowed to take classes in art or music. Being an artist was not seen as a respectable profession for a man from his family line.      

While struggling with the expectations of a traditional father and heritage, he knew he wanted to pursue art. He received his formal training in Fine Arts at the Kyoto Seika University in 1973 where he studied both Western and Japanese art disciplines. Since his father did not accept his choice he decided to come to the U.S. in 1986, even though he knew no English. He studied here and worked at many jobs, from dishwasher to research technician to support his art career.

While in his 30s, Fumio’s mother died. He returned to Japan and came out as gay to his father and his sisters. After being rejected again he returned to the U.S. for good.

Here in the U.S. Fumio worked as an oil painter and watercolorist for 30 years. Along the way a teacher advised him to develop a unique style. He said, until you develop your own style you’ll never be a great artist. Fumio began developing a new technique, which is his creation alone. He began to use a new computer program, Illustrator. It took Fumio four years to master this new program, but once mastered he began to produce works unlike any other artist. He integrates all of his experiences as an artist into his new medium.

Fumio’s works are created using “vector” drawing. He uses a light pen as his brush and the computer screen as his canvas. His images take from 200 to 300 hours of work each to produce. Then only one original print is created. Every step of the process is done by Fumio and Walt Boulden. To handle the enormous file sizes, a special Apple computer was built.

The Sawa Fine Art Gallery at 114 E. Main, Suite A, in the new First National Bank Galleria building, is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday. Everyone is always welcome to stop in and meet the artist and enjoy the amenities that the shop has to offer.

Fine, unique digital artwork earns professional artist accolades, coveted one-man show next summer

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