Artist Statement

Living in New York humbles me and sharpens my rusting senses.  It freshens my mood by forcing me to discard my desire to look for an easy-way out of my reality.  It allows me an opportunity to question my tendency to pretend who I really am.  It lets me to express my mind without a trace of hesitation.

I see drama in each window of the skyscrapers that adorn the Manhattan skyline. And through those skyscrapers I see clouds, high-flying airplanes and stars that shine down on us. Stars in my paintings represent hope and dreams while the big hands represent our desire to reach for those stars.

In 1998, I had my first solo New York exhibition entitled “Between Stars and Man.”  The main theme of the exhibition, our ever-lasting adoration of stars and their relationship with humans, eventually led me to create a series of paintings called “Psalm of the Old Testament in a New Light – Contemporary Religious Paintings” inspired by the Sunday sermons I heard at my local church.

The Bible says, “Man cannot live on bread alone.”  What this teaches, I believe, is that there is something more than bread that humans need which is the spirit of sharing and loving one another.  I now understand the importance of spiritual enrichment that art, music, and literature, bring to help us maintain mental and physical wellness essential in keeping pace with contemporary society.

Painting as a personal expression is a way for artists as a visualizer of their innermost thoughts to communicate with the outside world. I’d be delighted if my paintings help you feel God’s grace and the blessings that embrace us.

Keico Watanabe

Keico Watanabe seems to have found “that special something” with conceptual width and depth that provides the basis and direction for her to establish her own artistic domain for her artistic future. I am envious. What is that “special something”? What would it evolve into? This exhibition signals the beginning of the evolution and gives us a glimpse of what’s to come.

“I was never into studying. My love was cruising around on my big motorcycle,” says Watanabe whose past paintings were densely covered with idealized romanticism. I assume that the romanticism associated with riding motorcycles and mannerism of Watanabe’s past painterly themes, the cityscape afloat sunset-like colors with a solitary figure in the front, have provided her, somehow, a means to express her inner-self, perhaps as an emotional outlet. One wonders if Watanabe could further broaden her artistic territory through the same series?

In order for an artist to move forward, not a single past experience is wasted. Every experience helps artists grow. In other words, you can’t find the truth nor can you move forward as an artist without making mistakes or detours. Watanabe’s joy through the answers to questions of what artistic expression means to its maker’s life, as well as to the viewer’s, is the prime motivation for this exhibition. Hence, it is an artist’s testimony.

Late Hitoshi Nakazato ( Contemporary Artist / Former Professor at Graduate School Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania ) on Keico Watanabe’s Solo Exhibition “For You Are With Me”

A member of our church group, a great friend, an expert masseuse of heart & mind who gently massaged me out of creative fear and insecurity I’ve had since my childhood, and most importantly, a humble and faithful follower of the Lord and the Bible, Keico is currently working on a series of paintings based on the Book of Psalms.

The Book of Psalms is found in the middle of the Old Testament. It consists of 150 songs of cries from the heart of the people. They are also laments on hardship and thanksgiving for emancipation. People have loved them for years and the songs touch our heart in the 21st Century. They are prayer, praise and confession to God and testimony of the lives with God toward people.

Manabi Nishikori ( Pastor of Japanese Christian Church of New Jersey )







渡辺啓子さんは今後の自分の芸術の世界を築くのにその基礎と方向性として、巾と奥行きの在る何かを賢明にも見出したようです。うらやましい限りです。それが何なのか? そして、それがどのように発展するのか? 今回の個展にその出発点とその発展の片鱗が見える筈です。非常に興味をそそります。
彼女は今迄不勉強で、オートバイで風を切り乗り回すのが好きだった、と云う 過去の絵は、ある観念化されたロマンティシズムで塗り覆われていた。オートバイを乗り回すロマンと、過去の絵のテーマ、夕焼け空の色が反映する街やそこに佇む人物像のロマンティックな様式化は、合い重なる感情の表出だったろう。しかし、そこでは芸術的探求、自分の芸術的領域を広げ確立しようとする試みがなされたのだろうか。

故 中里 斉 (現代アーティスト、ペンシルバニア大学元教授)


錦織 学ニュージャージー日本語教会 牧師)