Meet Joe Wu. He is Taiwanese, a resident of the 626 area code, and is also the artist behind Djembe & Canvas. Joe has been a great friend for our night market since our October event and he is a strong contributor to the San Gabriel Valley.
Always having an interest in art, Joe’s techniques didn’t mature until he started teaching art to his students. “With every student there is no standard pace. Every kid is unique and you can’t treat them the same. That leads to isolation.” For Wu it wasn’t about having his students meet an expectation. It was about their development. “Unity through individuality, infinite human capacity.” You can find this quote at the bottom of Wu’s website. This quote is the source of Wu’s inspiration. By catering to his students individually, a lot of his students are now pursuing art as a career. “Parents no longer see the limitations [to art]. They see the possibilities,” says Wu. By catering to his students individually, Wu was able to experiment with his art and learn new techniques to create the pieces he has painted today.
If you look at Wu’s work most of his pieces are of old legends painted with a contemporary style. “Innovate with a modern flair,” describes Wu, “but inspired from historical points and references.” Making several trips to Japan, Wu draws inspiration from the country’s modernization with its preserved ancient aspects.
After Japan was hit by the tsunami, Wu realized how grave the situation was in Japan. “A friend in Sendai showed me the opposite shade of what the media was telling. While the media said help was on the way, you weren’t really going to get help for another week.” Created as a tribute to North Japan, Wu painted Hope and Courage. Within the painting is the Japanese historical figure, Date Masamune, impaled by 3 arrows symbolizing the tsunami, earthquake, and the radiation that leaked from the destroyed power plants. In his hands, Masamune is determined to protect a gold koi fish symbolizing the hope and resilience of every survivor. Trying to connect communities near and far, Wu, made this piece to raise funds to provide immediate relief for Japan’s disaster victims.
Currently, Wu will be displaying his pieces at the Los Angeles Downtown Art Walk, April 11th at the Norbertellen Gallery on 215 W. 6th Street #110, Los Angeles, CA 90014. You can also check out Djembe & Canvas this summer at the 626 Night Market.