Seattle Now & Then: Horiuchi mural, 1965

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: On a visit to Seattle on Aug. 28, 1965, three years after the Seattle World’s Fair, and posing in front of the mural created for the fair by his great uncle, is a grinning 3-year-old Brian Horiuchi, second from left, with family members (from left) Brian’s mother, Maynard Cooke Horiuchi; aunt, Gloria Lewis Horiuchi; cousin, Mark Shigetoshi Horiuchi; grandmother, Takeko Horiuchi; and uncle, Arthur Horiuchi. (Courtesy Brian Horiuchi)
NOW1: Cosima Horiuchi, 5, twirls as 15 other Horiuchi descendants join her on July 13 in front of the Paul Horiuchi mural at Seattle Center. Cosima’s dad, Brian Horiuchi, fourth from right, beams as he stands not far from his great uncle’s corner signature. Here is the full lineup (from left): Cosima Horiuchi, Trish Howard, Karen Ooka Hofman, Grant Wataru Horiuchi, Halli Hisako Horiuchi, Hiro Hayden Horiuchi, Hannah Amaya Horiuchi, Ottilie Horiuchi (purple hair), Cheryl Ooka (obscured), Naomi Ooka Bang, Greg Bang, Lucius Horiuchi (boy), Brian Horiuchi, Rowan Manesse, Mark Shigetoshi Horiuchi and Kassie Maneri. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in the Seattle Times online on Sept. 23, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Sept. 26, 2021

In celebration out of darkness, Horiuchi mural inspires reunion
By Clay Eals

Memorable moments abound naturally at Seattle Center, our collective keepsake from the 1962 World’s Fair. And for me, its touchstone is the amphitheater west of the Space Needle, anchored by the rich hues and galvanizing composition of its 60-by-17-foot mosaic mural by Paul Horiuchi.

Both arresting and unifying, the juxtaposed Needle, green grass and mural bear a timeless appeal, enveloping us like a hug. Where else, over the past six decades, could we rather have passed time alone in urban contemplation or enjoyed an outdoor experience with a festive crowd?

I’ve long presumed that the mural’s warmth and complexity derived from the art itself, but thanks to a recent reunion of Horiuchis at the mural, I know it also springs from a stinging saga.

THEN2: Paul Horiuchi relaxes Oct. 6, 1978, while visiting Kobe, Japan. (Courtesy Brian Horiuchi)

Born in 1906 in Japan, Horiuchi first delved into ink-wash painting as a boy. He came to the United States in 1920, becoming a railroad worker in Wyoming until World War II, when he was fired for being Japanese and lived largely in hiding with his young family in a truck while laboring as a janitor and gardener.

Postwar, after a move to Seattle, Horiuchi’s artistic career took off. Fifteen years later, the Century 21 Exposition commissioned what became the soft-spoken collagist’s best-known and most beloved piece. His melding of odd-shaped and multi-colored chunks of glass from Venice, Italy, was touted in 1962 as the largest single work of art in the Northwest.

Brian Horiuchi, a descendant and L.A. screenwriter-director who organized the reunion, sees accessibility and emotional truth in his great uncle’s creation.

NOW2: Paul Horiuchi’s 1962 mural signature. (Clay Eals)

“Though it’s abstract, it doesn’t strike me as intellectualized or at all forced,” he says. A family gathering at the amphitheater, he says, becomes a pilgrimage to a tangled but triumphant legacy: “I think there’s celebration with the darkness, for sure.”

His 5-year-old daughter, Cosima, a budding artist, catches the symbolism while twirling before the parabolic mural: “It’s about feelings.”

NOW3: Horiuchi mural plaque, 1962. (Clay Eals)

My own feelings about the mural hover to amphitheater events such as Pete Seeger inspiring a 1997 Northwest Folklife audience to sing along to “Amen/Freedom/Union” with the new Seattle Labor Chorus, as well as, more recently, the perennially mesmerizing performances of Eduardo Mendonça and Show Brazil.

The long ribbon of such occasions bespeaks permanence — and survival amid sporadic talk of redesigning Seattle Center, especially a scuttled late-1980s Disney scheme.

The mural’s endurance also breeds comfort that its maker expressed in a handwritten message, shared at his 1999 memorial service:

“I have always wanted to create something serene, the peace and serenity, the quality needed to balance the sensationalism in our surroundings today.”

NOW4: This view matches and expands the straight-on vantage of our THEN. Those posing are (from left) Grant Wataru Horiuchi, Halli Hisako Horiuchi, Hiro Hayden Horiuchi, Hannah Amaya Horiuchi, Lucius Horiuchi held by Rowan Manesse, Ottilie Horiuchi (purple hair), Cosima Horiuchi, Brian Horiuchi, Mark Shigetoshi Horiuchi, Kassie Maneri, Karen Ooka Hofman, Trish Howard, Cheryl Ooka, Naomi Ooka Bang and Greg Bang.


To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Also please click here to see a Queen Anne Historical Society story on the mural’s 2011 restoration.

We present an array of additional extras related to this column’s topic.

Here are video interviews of four Paul Horiuchi descendants attending the July 13, 2021, family reunion at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheater: (1) Brian Horiuchi, (2) Mark Horiuchi, (3) Grant Horiuchi and (4) Trish Howard.

VIDEO: Click photo to see an interview with Brian Horiuchi, 7:07. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click photo to see an interview with Mark Horiuchi, 14:47. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click photo to see an interview with Grant Horiuchi, 8:27. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click photo to see an interview with Trish Howard, 3:06. (Clay Eals)

We also present two other videos from the Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheater: (1) a May 25, 1997, Pete Seeger performance of “Amen/Freedom/Union” at Northwest Folklife Festival and (2) a May 28, 2018, performance, also from Folklife.

VIDEO: Click photo to see folk legend Pete Seeger lead the newly formed Seattle Labor Chorus in “Amen/Freedom/Union” on May 25, 1997, at the Mural Amphitheater, 6:44. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click photo to see a short glimpse from May 28, 2018, of another Mural Amphitheater performance, 0:15. (Clay Eals)

Below we present three examples of other Paul Horiuchi artworks from the private collection of Brian Horiuchi and Rowan Maness.

This 1944 Paul Horiuchi painting depicts Brian Horiuchi’s father, Lucius Horiuchi, and aunt, Marie Horiuchi, walking by the guard tower of the Minidoka relocation camp in Hunt, Idaho. (Courtesy Brian Horiuchi and Rowan Maness)
This July 21, 1976, Paul Horiuchi collage is done with paper strips. On its reverse side, the piece is titled “Reflections” and is dedicated to Brian Horiuchi’s mother and father, Maynard and Lucius, on Lucius’ 48th birthday, from Paul and his wife Bernadette Horiuchi. (Courtesy Brian Horiuchi and Rowan Maness)
This Paul Horiuchi watercolor was painted in 1952. On its reverse is this note: “This watercolor was done after WWII by Paul Chikamasa Horiuchi (represents an area of Alkai (sic), outside Seattle). Paul gave this to Lucius in either 1957 or 1959 in Seattle. (Lucius was visiting Paul’s shop; and Paul was grateful for little favors Lucius extended to Paul’s mother who lived in Oishi, Yamanashi-ken, Japan.)” (Courtesy Brian Horiuchi and Rowan Maness)

Here, in chronological order, are 22 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

July 26, 1961, Seattle Times, page 1.
July 27, 1961, Seattle Times, page 15.
July 28, 1961, Oregonian, page 12.
July 28, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Sept. 10, 1961, Seattle Times, page 160.
Oct. 22, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 106.
March 2, 1962, Seattle Times, Lou Guzzo column, page 13.
March 25, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 32.
March 25, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 112.
April 8, 1962, Seattle Times, page 229.
April 19, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
April 22, 1962, Seattle Times, page 123.
April 23, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
June 2, 1962, Oregonian, page 19.
Feb. 24, 1964, Seattle Times, page 20.
Dec. 8, 1964, Seattle Times, page 26.
May 14, 1965, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 50.
Aug. 13, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 61.
Aug. 13, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 62.
Feb. 16, 1969, Oregonian p88.
Dec. 21, 1979, Tacoma News-Tribune, p26.
Sept. 12, 1986, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3.
Aug. 31, 1999, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 27.

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