KOHO Yamamoto is the founder and only teacher of the Koho School of Sumi-E, located at 64 MacDougal Street (corner of Houston) in New York City where she conducts classes in brush painting and exhibits her paintings.
Ms. Yamamoto is the daughter of a master calligrapher and poet. She has practiced calligraphy since her early childhood in Japan. Koho learned her art from the late professor, Chiura Obata, a famous Sumi-E artist and Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of California. During World War II, people of Japanese ancestry who lived on the West Coast were relocated in Detention Camps. Ms. Yamamoto and her family were placed in the Topaz Detention Center in Utah. Prof. Obata was the Director of the Topaz Art School. Ms.Yamamoto was among his students excelling in his Sumi-E class.In recognition of her skill, Professor Obata gave her a part of his art name; Koho, which is a symbol of spiritual succession.
After the war Ms. Yamamoto came to New York City and studied oil painting at the Art Students League, where she was awarded the Allen Tucker Scholarship. She joined "Gallery 84" one of the original 10th street Cooperative Art Galleries, and presented a one-woman show. An "Art News" critic described her paintings as "fantastic dark landscapes". In December of 1973, she had an outstanding exhibition of Sumi-E at the Japan Cultural Center in New York. Of her exhibit a the Kenshaw Gallery in Woodstock, Mr. Peter Moscoso-Gongora, an art critic for Ulster County Townsman wrote, "The work speaks for itself in its pristine grace…its concise brush work…its tendency toward idealism…its remarkable merits will not be questioned". The world-renowned sculptor, the late Isamu Noguchi, in his letter to Koho wrote, "I find your paintings to be exceptionally beautiful".
Koho School of Sumi-E is a personal, small class school of sumi-e and calligraphy in the finest traditions of Far Eastern Art and Zen Philosophy. Individual guidance and instruction are stressed. Since the students have not experienced the Asian world, bamboo flute music is played to create a quiet and calm atmosphere in the class. Tea is served during the class and students are taught proper breathing and posture, as well as how to prepare the ink, hold the brush and finally back the paintings (ura-uchi). Classes average 4 to 5 students. The emphasis is on Notan; the art of achieving dark and light tones on white Sumi-E paper. This creates balance and rich emotional expression. Within a series of 10 weekly- 2 hour classes, the student can learn the basic techniques to paint the classic subjects, bamboo, pine, plum blossom, orchid and landscape.
With further study the student may intergrate watercolor with traditional ink painting and explore other expressive areas, such as abstraction.
The school is on the ground floor of a corner building. It is modern, congenial and evokes an atmosphere of Japanese culture. The school is well established, and has been at this location for over 30 years. The classes are held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday. It is easily reached by bus or subway and is in the Soho district.
All necessary supplies such as Sumi-E Papers, brushes, ink sticks, ink blocks, and brush holders are available for purchase at the school. There are occasional exhibitions of the student’s work at the school.
Sensei and several students
In the New York Art Review (1988), Koho Yamamoto was listed as one of the leading artists of New York.She has been commissioned by publishers, advertising agencies and television corporations for her distinctive style and skill in Sumi-E and Calligraphy.
For more information about Koho's work and the classes she gives, please stop by the gallery/school or contact her by phone or email.