Sadayuki Thomas Uno


Name Sadayuki Thomas Uno
Born 1901
Died April 3 1989
Birth Location Hiroshima, Japan
Generational Identifier

Issei

Issei painter and sculptor Sadayuki Thomas Uno (1901-1989) was born in Hiroshima on January 1, 1901, and joined his father in California in 1917 when he was sixteen. He attended Oakland High School before receiving a scholarship at the California School of Arts and Crafts, where he studied briefly. In 1924, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, and then New York to work at a photography studio in Long Island and study at the New York Photography Institute, with the hopes of returning to Hollywood and working as a cinematographer in the film industry.

When his father fell ill in the late 1920s, Uno returned to the Bay Area and settled in Alameda, California, working as an interior decorator and later as a gardener. According to a biographical sketch of Uno published in Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970, Uno was encouraged by the success of actor-director Sessue Hayakawa, and tried to find work in Hollywood but was not successful. [1] However, he continued his artistic pursuits by painting and was married in 1931.

During World War II, Uno, his wife Hisaye and three children were sent first to the Pinedale Assembly Center in California, and then to the Jerome and Rohwer concentration camps in Arkansas, where they remained until the end of the war. At Pinedale, Uno began experimenting with woodcarving, using a butter knife to create wooden sculptures and masks, since traditional carving tools were considered contraband and prohibited. He also created an impressive body of work while incarcerated, including portrait and landscape paintings. At the Rohwer camp, Uno was also an instructor at the camp's art school with his longtime friend, Henry Sugimoto. He also began the study and practice of shigin, a Japanese form of spoken poetry, which he continued after he was released from camp and had resettled in California.

In 1957, Uno resumed his study at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California, and exhibited his paintings at the Oakland Museum, the Wight Art Gallery at UCLA, and at San Francisco State University. In 1980, the Japanese American Anthology Committee included Uno's paintings in one of the earliest multi-generational anthologies of Japanese American writing and art, entitled Ayumi. His work is included in the permanent collection at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

Uno died on April 3, 1989 in Oakland, California.

Authored by Patricia Wakida

For More Information

Chang, Gordon H., Johnson, Mark Dean, and Karlstrom, Paul J. editors. Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970, Stanford University Press, 2008.

Mirikitani, Janice, ed. Ayumi: A Japanese American Anthology. San Francisco: Japanese American Anthology Committee, 1980.

The View from Within: Japanese American Art from the Internment Camps, 1942-1945. Los Angeles: Japanese American National Museum, UCLA Wight Art Gallery, and UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1992.

Footnotes

  1. Gordon H. Chang, Mark Dean Johnson, and Paul J. Karlstrom, editors, Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 (Stanford University Press, 2008), 441.