In Flight: Peter Hassen & Dick Morisawa

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A two-artist exhibition that ran in The Studio from July 26 to September 14, 2019.

Artists Peter Hassen and Dick Morisawa’s work is very dissimilar in visual appearance, but connected in their explorations of nature and spirit. Hassen’s large, digital prints and video work play with science, nature and spirituality. He manifests a dialogue between these themes, raising existential questions about humans, cultures and existence. Dick Morisawa’s beautiful mixed media paintings use birds as a symbol for both freedom and connection. He incorporates a liberal movement of ink and paint, referencing Japanese calligraphy alongside a few cartoonish strokes.

Dick Akio Morisawa is a third-generation Japanese American artist who was born in Sacramento California in 1947. His interest in art began when he was a very young boy and has continued to be an important part of his life for more than seven decades. He is primarily self-taught although he did spend a few years studying art at Sacramento City College. In the early 70’s he traveled extensively through Europe visiting many museums and seeing lots of art both old and new. He later made several trips to Japan to see more art and his family.

His Japanese heritage can be seen throughout his work both as an artist and also as a woodworker. He has always made a living working on a variety of construction projects. He and his wife are currently living and working in Sonoma, California.

Abstract expressionism has always been Morisawa’s biggest interest and focus although he has also painted in a realistic style. He is inspired by the natural world and all types of art. He strives to create art that is personal and what he feels in the moment. Showing and selling the work has never been his motive–it is the process of making art that he loves.

Peter Hassen is a conceptual artist using sculpture, painting, printmaking, photography, video and landscape intervention. His work focuses on themes of nature, science, and spirituality. Born in Cincinnati, Hassen received his BFA from University of Colorado in Boulder and now lives and works in Sonoma.

In the 80’s and 90’s Hassen started working as a guerrilla public artist in Colorado, Cincinnati, Manhattan, Florida and San Francisco, installing illegal murals and billboards that addressed social issues, such as greed, corruption, and personal responsibility. In 1994 he was commissioned by Perry Farrell to paint a series of large canvases for the Lollapalooza tour that examined similar socio-political issues.

Now working in multiple media, Hassen seeks to open dialogue between these themes, and raise questions about our tribes, societies, and cultures, and their commonalities.

“My work can be found at that point at which spirituality and culture meet. Using cultural icons, language, symbols and historic context, I try to illustrate the influences that varied cultures have had on each other and the evolution of society. I track the arc of these icons through history in order to reinterpret and filter them through a contemporary sensibility.”

“I believe that connections between the past and the present, different tribes and traditions and the functions of spirituality and culture, hold clues to understanding. By providing opportunities for discovery, in nature and the everyday environment, I encourage people to consider their own place in the wider scope of human history.”

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