Kiyoe’s painting, “Hope and Despair”, carries a story of life during WWII in Japan.
Light can vanquish darkness as long as you never lose hope.
Born in Japan during WWII, Kiyoe knew what it was like to live in despair on the island of Hokkaido. As a nine year old when the war ended, her family had neither food nor fuel. So Kiyoe and one of her seven siblings would pack up kimonos and dishes, then bundle up and take the train to the country. Putting these items on a sled, they would then trade for potatoes, radishes, and wood to keep their home warm. They traded until they had nothing left.
Years later, she would compose a picture depicting life as she remembered it then. The picture is called “Hope and Despair”. Kiyoe feels the picture perfectly describes the world she lived in during WWII. In her mind, “No child should ever have to feel that way.” Even in the midst of despair, Kiyoe’s collage tells people there is hope that things would get better.
This popular painting, “Hope and Despair”, was part of an art show at the Zanesville Public Library recently. It attracted much attention as Kiyoe shared the story of her painting, which showed so much hurt being present. The light showed good things to come. All the people in the painting are shown leaving to go to Northern Europe. You can feel their pain through her art, and others are touched by the symbolism.
At an early age, Kiyoe’s teacher in Japan noticed her artistic ability. She did art work in middle school but put art on the back burner to help care for her family in Japan. Years later she moved to Tokyo to find a better job as a tour bus guide so she could send money to her mom.
It was here this beautiful Japanese lady met her husband, Senior Master Sergeant Larry Howald, while he was serving in the Air Force in Japan after the war. They enjoyed hiking and running together. Before he went back to the States, he asked her to make Japanese shawls for his mother and grandmother.
On Valentines Day, Kiyoe received a card from Larry saying, “Come to the States and marry me.” Since then, Larry has been a great supporter of Kiyoe’s artwork.
Her daughter, Miki, and son, Arn, remember the beautiful cakes their mom decorated with pictures that looked like paintings. She has won several cake decorating contests. Her art was being kept alive in a different way at this time of her life.
After retirement from Larry Wade, where she was a seamstress, Kiyoe began taking classes and workshops about watercolors. Bill Koch’s watercolor class was a big influence on her revived interest in art. She has won first prize with many of her paintings around the area and even at the State Fair. Kiyoe’s work is always in demand.
Volunteering for Dickens Victorian Village took many hours of her days for years. She began by making skirts and capes for the Imagination Station at the Visitors Center. Making hats became a new fun venture.
Later, she made several of the mannequin heads that line the main street of Cambridge during the holiday season. In her mind, “Working at Dickens made me more creative.” Kiyoe’s current project for Dickens involves creating a new head for Father Christmas as his head has severe water damage.
“There’s always something new to learn.” Those words from Kiyoe are no surprise as she constantly explores new artistic endeavors. Currently, she is taking a Carving Class in Parkersburg, where she is learning the beginning steps of wood carving. Her goal is to someday carve a Buddha.
She also teaches acrylic and watercolor classes in Zanesville. Origami classes have also been taught by Kiyoe as she enjoys making these meaningful objects, a Japanese tradition.
Since she doesn’t look her age, it makes one wonder how she stays so young. Every week she attends a Tai Chi class and a Yoga class. She never runs, but does walk three miles at least once a week.
In the spring, Kiyoe will have an art show at First Friday in Zanesville. This event is sponsored by Zanesville Appalachian Arts Project. She finds associating with other artists quite rewarding. Even though she is a bit on the shy side, it’s a real pleasure for her to participate in artistic endeavors.
One thing she has yet to try is brush writing. When she finds someone to teach her some basics, this will be her next artistic challenge.
Kiyoe takes great pride in her work and enjoys having others appreciate it. Her beautiful smile and humble manner make everyone comfortable in her presence. Like Kiyoe, may we always be searching for new things to learn.