What a hoot: Disabled artists show off owl prints in NYC

Kyodo

An exhibition showcasing owl-themed paintings by artists with disabilities from countries including Japan, Nepal, South Korea and Italy is taking place at a New York gallery.

The show, titled “Fukuro: Owls of Hayashibara, Japan” at Cavin-Morris Gallery, is themed after the owl because the bird “can be interpreted in myriad ways,” said Midori Kano, assistant director of the gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. “Its symbolism such as mystery, wisdom and wonder provides many sources of inspiration.

“Whether the person has a disability or not, we see each individual as an artist,” Kano said.

A total of 59 works are on display for the event, which runs through Saturday.

The show is co-sponsored by Hayashibara Co., a biotech firm based in Okayama Prefecture. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Rising Stars international arts festival, which the Japanese company founded in 2003 to “connect the world through art.”

For the Rising Stars 2008-2010, the company sponsored an exhibition titled “My Mona Lisa,” in which artists with disabilities were asked to submit their impressions of the Leonardo Da Vinci painting.

“We were so inspired at the time by what we saw that we wanted to try it in the gallery with another theme,” gallery officials said in a statement.

“Everyone worked hard as the paintings would be displayed at a famous gallery in New York. If they find buyers, that will be of financial help for the artists as well,” said Yuko Sakagami, a staff member at Hayashibara.

One of the artists, Tae Takubo, attended the show’s opening reception Oct. 10.

She painted a dramatic piece by actually watching an owl spreading its wings in front of her.

The piece was selected for the cover of the show’s catalog.