Karen LeGault ~Fine Art Blog

April 21, 2015

Remembering John Kaneko

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Karen LeGault @ 08:01
Remembering John Kaneko
IMG_1840 - Version 4
photo from High School Year Book
Good Teachers make a Difference in People’s Lives
A few years ago I wanted to get in touch with a high school Art teacher who was my first Art Teacher back in 1967. A few years later he started teaching at the Community College, American River College, that I attended. I studied with him there as well. The foundation he gave me was a strong building block in basics such as perspective, mixing color, drawing, composition and art history. Even though it was 47 years ago many of the lessons he gave seem as fresh in my mind as the day he gave them.
I still remember the color charts we had to match and mixing colors right on the tables  until I could create any color I could imagine, creating collages that he endlessly had me rearrange. I had to expand my vocabulary to describe historical art images learning about “mannerism”, Symbolism, Surrealism, Impressionism and the “Renaissance”.

He exposed me to Japanese art and architecture, giving me a lifelong appreciation of the seemingly simple forms. He helped me cut wood to learn how to create structural support for paintings.

He gave me encouragement to think about art as something I was good at a time when I was thinking about more practical ideas like commercial art.

He was also a man who lived in my neighborhood with his family, whose house I would stop by with my siblings on Halloween. He moved a few blocks from there to build his new house by hand, in his ‘spare’ time.

I didn’t find him a few years ago, even though I had called the college where he chaired the art department for many years. there were no clues online. No one seemed to be able to give me a way to connect with him.

Last night I decided to pursue my search again only to discover that he had passed away in January of 2014.

The biggest disappointment about that is that I never really got to thank him in person for the tremendous influence he played in my life, or for the generosity of time and his interest in me as a person in a day when girls were not taken seriously in their studies.

He knew about discrimination. As a Japanese American he and his family were interned during World War II. He talked to our school about the experience and I observed that many students were not respectful.

Maybe because of that he was especially conscious  of the value of opportunities, he was very supportive of female students at a time when it wasn’t the norm.

I was fortunate to have the gift of this excellent teacher and over the years have tried to pass on what I learned from him, in spirit as much as content.


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