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Arcadia Library Presents Program on Japanese Artist’s Journey from Kagoshima to WWII Incarceration Camps to Pasadena

Cover of “Kagoshima 9066 Westridge.” | Courtesy photo

The life and legacy of artist J.T. Sata will be the subject of a virtual program at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, hosted by the Arcadia Public Library, in partnership with the Japanese American National Museum. The program, “J.T. Sata: A Japanese Immigrant in Search of Western Art,” is based on a recently published biography, “Kagoshima 9066 Westridge,” written by his son Frank Sata and well-known author Naomi Hirahara. Both writers and Bryan Takeda of the Nikkei Federation, the sponsor for the project, will discuss the life of J.T. Sata, who left a record of the Japanese immigrant experience through his photographs, sketches, paintings and sculptures.

A man committed to a life of art, not necessarily as a profession, J.T. emigrated to America from Kagoshima in 1918. In Los Angeles, he was active with the Issei photo community while working odd jobs. During World War II, J.T., his wife Yoshie and Sata were incarcerated at Santa Anita Assembly Center and the concentration camps in Jerome, Ark., and Gila River, Ariz. “Kagoshima 9066 Westridge” includes artwork completed in all three detention centers as well as candid snapshots J.T. took after World War II on the campus of Westridge, an exclusive girls’ school in Pasadena, where he worked as a janitor until his retirement. 

Sata will discuss the impact of his father’s art and why he felt compelled to publish

this book in this moment with Bryan Takeda. Hirahara will also be presenting selections from the book and discussing the process of creating this visual history. Yvonne Ng, librarian at the Arcadia Public Library, and Shawn Iwaoka, collections assistant at JANM, will highlight the history of Santa Anita Park Racetrack, where Sata was incarcerated, and how their respective institutions preserve that history. 

No payment is required to attend this event, but preregistration is required and donations to the hosting organizations are encouraged. To register, go to janm.org/events/2020/10/. This program was made possible through support from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Grant, a program of the California State Library. A limited number of “Kagoshima 9066 Westridge” books will be available for sale through JANM’s Museum Store.

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