Paul Yamada

Paul Yamada, a free-lance writer for 35 years, specializes in music, the arts and literature. Paul considers himself ‘hapa’ with familial roots both in the Midwest and in California. Having taught and lectured on philosophy, and also the history of American art, music and culture, his aim is to celebrate Asian American artists, musicians and writers. Paul is very interested in conducting interviews with Asian American artists. If you would like to be interviewed, please email Chicago@jacl.org.

Updated November 2009

culture en

Ray Yoshida

It is quite difficult for the viewer of Ray Yoshida’s wide ranging and yet interconnected work not to wonder if his paintings and collages are sending messages in code, through and with the myriad images he has chosen and depicted.

Many of his works provoke a “what is this saying” response, as if they are experiments in image language and semantics. Their muted and striking color choices and schemes create a beguiling sense of familiarity, dissonance, and discord.

Many times I have found myself reckoning, wondering, and reacting, or at least hoping that the images could be deciphered. As ...

Read more

identity en

When There Was No "Hapa"

Throughout most of my life I’ve been THE Asian in the room, so to speak. My first grade school had African American kids, but no other Asians that I can recall. At my second grade school, which was very small (less than 125 kids) and mostly Jewish, I was the (only) minority of color. I might add that several of the working class Jewish kids from this school took it upon themselves to beat me up every day for at least three months. When they tired of beating me up, they started beating up another kid who was new ...

Read more

identity en

My Parents -- An Introduction

We asked writer Paul Yamada about his background and what it was like for him growing up Hapa. He noted that unlike most early Hapa families, it was his father that was Japanese American—not his mother. This article presents his parents’ backgrounds as an introduction of where he came from and will be followed with more in the future in which he describes himself and his experiences being of mixed race.

My mother was born Marjorie Ann Lehmann in August, 1927 to Anna Bell and August Lehmann, in a house east of Broadway that overlooked the Mississippi river. Her ...

Read more

culture en

Profile: Yasuo Kuniyoshi

While there are Asian American artists who have received notable acclaim and recognition, very few have been the subject of a photo portrait, and perhaps only Yasuo Kuniyoshi has been the subject of a photographer as well known as Arnold Newman. The portrait, from 1941, reveals a dapper, equanimous looking man, seated on a divan. It is not a jarring image, but one that centers Kuniyoshi in a very American looking environment.

Nonetheless, Kuniyoshi, who came to Seattle in 1906 from Okayama, Japan, was never able to become an American citizen. He left Seattle for Los Angeles, where he attended ...

Read more

culture en

Pictures Worth a 1000 Words

The “street photography” of Yasuhiro Ishimoto, all shot in Chicago, is nothing short of spectacular. Though this is only one phase of his work, it may be what he is best remembered for, at least in this country.

Alas, he may not be remembered at all. Mr. Ishimoto was born in California, June 14, 1921, but returned to Japan for schooling with family in 1924. He returned as a teenager after graduating from an agricultural high school and attended Northwestern University in architecture. Shortly thereafter, he was interned at Amache where he began to practice some photography. After the war ...

Read more