Local artist Chris Hagebak says he’s inspired by his recent trip to Tokyo and would love to revisit Japan one day.
“It was phenomenal,” he said of the seven-day adventure.
He’s been telling stories to his art students at 809 Gallery since he got back.
“It was awe-inspiring and humbling,” he said. “I’ve been a lot of places in the world, but this was so enjoyable.”
Hagebak was invited to the country after one of his watercolor paintings, “The Romanovs,” was chosen to be displayed in an exhibit at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Steven Keel, the potter at 809 Gallery, also had two pots in the show but did not make the trip.
The exhibit runs through June, but being there for the opening was a dream of Hagebak’s. He even had a “Get Chris to Japan” jar set up at the gallery and made the trip with the help of generous donors.
While in Japan, he toured much of the city. A travel blog soon will be posted on his Facebook page, with pictures.
Being there for the opening and artists’ reception was humbling, he said. He arrived at the museum an hour early so he could find his painting, but he soon was whisked into a separate room where artists, dignitaries and public officials all had gathered.
“The public officials all made speeches,” he said. “This was a big event. When I saw the TV cameras and diplomats, it hit me how big it was.”
There were 400 artists in the show and he was the only one from America at the opening.
“To be the only American was a tremendous honor,” he said.
Hagebak prepared for the trip by learning some Japanese phrases, but he says what really got him through the trip was studying the culture and mannerisms.
Before arriving in Japan he had learned how to properly give someone a business card, how deep to bow in greeting, how to eat and other customs.
Hagebak said the talk of the nuclear threat in nearby North Korea didn’t come up, at the gallery or on the news
“I watched a lot of television when I was in my hotel room and even when they delivered serious news, it was always upbeat,” he said. “They were really playing it down.”