Good Morning
Good Morning
Long IslandNassau

Henry Fukuhara, watercolor artist, dies at 96

Henry Fukuhara was a nationally renowned Japanese American artist and former Long Islander who was also known for brilliant watercolors - including his depiction of his life in an internment camp during World War II.

He died of natural causes outside of Los Angeles on Jan. 31.

He was 96.

Fukuhara's family owned a flower shop in Deer Park, where he relocated after being held at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California in 1942.

A California native, he headed east in 1943 after release from Manzanar, and lived on Long Island until the late 1980s, picking up the craft he had been too busy to develop fully while in New York.

Manzanar was one of 10 sites where the U.S. government held 120,000 Japanese-Americans during the war on suspicion they might assist the Axis powers.

The experience at Manzanar was the spark for a series of annual art workshops that Fukuhara organized in the mid-1990s after he moved back to California.

The 13th annual workshop will be held this year in Fukuhara's honor in May, said Al Setton, an artist who worked with Fukuhara and who is organizing this year's workshop.

"He had a way of painting that was unique to his own style and it was very, very effective," Setton said, adding that Fukuhara was gregarious and made friends easily.

Fukuhara's talent showed when he attended Santa Monica High School, from which he graduated in 1931 and enrolled in the Otis Art Institute, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He dropped out of the institute to assist his family during the Depression but, in 1936, was the subject of a one-man show at what is now the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the newspaper said.

Fukuhara and his family had a flower business in California, an enterprise they continued after they moved to Long Island.

In 1972, Fukuhara picked up his brush again, Setton said, adding that he tried other media but found watercolors best suited his personality.

"He would distribute spots of colors all over the page," Setton said, reflecting on Fukuhara's technique. "The audience would think he was not going to be successful and he would tie it all up successfully. And it would be dazzling."

Fukuhara befriended and studied with watercolor artists and teachers such as Edgar Whitney, Robert E. Wood, Rex Brandt, George Post and Carl Molno, Frank Webb, Barbara Nechis and Tony Couch, Setton said.

Fukuhara is survived by his wife, Fujiko; three daughters, Joyce Bowersox of Bellport, Grace Niwa and Helen Fukuhara; a son, Rackham; four brothers, two sisters, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Nassau top stories