Last month I attended, at the invitation of my friend Bob Palevitz, the award ceremony and reception for Allied Artists 97th Annual Exhibition. The event was held at the National Arts Club. Not only was the artwork outstanding, the turnout was huge. My mom came too.
Just after the prizes were handed out, Bob told me that one of the awardees, a gifted young pastelist named Akiko Hoshino, had died just weeks earlier after being struck by a car while crossing the street. Akiko fought for her life in the hospital for a few days after the accident, but eventually succumbed to her very serious injuries. What an unbelievable tragedy. I couldn’t even speak when Bob told me this.
This is the piece for which Akiko was posthumously awarded the Silver Medal of Honor at the Allied Artists ceremony, and you can see why. It was a real standout. This elegant, sensitive pastel work is titled Be Alive:
I did not know Akiko, unfortunately. I wish I did. She studied at the Art Students League where I used to work but not anymore. But two good friends of mine knew her well – Dan Gheno and fellow pastelist Sam Goodsell who became a mentor to her. I just got off the phone with Sam, and he told me that he had gone to see Akiko in the hospital when she was near death. What a terrible, terrible thing. She was so young, full of talent and promise.
Wait for the Right Moment – The Hibernated, by Akiko Hoshino:
In addition to her meticulous technical skill with pastel which is a difficult medium, I am most moved by the spiritual, life-affirming quality of Akiko’s work. In an age when many up and coming artists feel like they must resort to shock value, cynicism, and harsh, disturbing images to get attention, Akiko Hoshino celebrated the substance of beauty and light and the inherent vitality of the figure. She said, “If my work wasn’t making me happy, how could I expect it to make anyone else happy? . . . I want to paint my feelings, but I don’t want to paint them in a dark way.” Beautifully stated, Akiko.
You can see more images of Akiko’s work on her website, Akiko Hoshino.
Here is a condolence page for Akiko from the Pastel Society of America with a lovely photo of her.
Akiko’s words that I quoted above are taken from the excellent profile of her that appeared in the July issue of Pastel Journal. Read the article in its entirety to learn more about this young woman’s journey from Japan to the United States, from a seeking student to an artist who found her voice. You will be inspired.
Deepest condolences to Akiko’s family. May she rest in peace.