Artists invited to submit proposals for a new monument to the future house of Santa Maria JCC
By GWEN MURANAKA, editor-in-chief of Rafu
Sculptors and artisans are encouraged to submit proposals for a monument to be installed in the new Japanese community center of Santa Maria. Santa Maria JCC has been a vital part of the local farming community since its founding in 1925.
The monument will be highlighted in the new center and will honor the Issei generation who migrated to Santa Maria. It will occupy a space about seven feet wide by 11 feet high and will be seven to eight feet deep.
Wes Koyama, JCC Santa Maria President, explained, “Some of the visions and concepts we want to include in the monument are as follows. First, we want to highlight the agricultural field. Most of the first generation to come to this valley were farmers. Second, they brought with them various traditions and art forms. They include martial arts (judo / karate), gardening (bonsai / ikebana), Japanese tea ceremony and Japanese music and their instruments (koto, shamisen, taiko).
The materials used will be at the discretion of the artist. The maximum project budget is $ 50,000. The budget will include all costs, including artist fees, fabrication, lighting, supplies, labor, insurance, delivery, installation and setup.
The JCC Santa Maria also accepts donations of $ 500, $ 1,000, $ 2,500 and $ 5,000. Donor plaques will be placed in the future center.
The City of Santa Maria is partnering with the community for the new facility, which is being built on a seven-acre site in Enos Ranch. The original community center was sold in 2017 and the Santa Maria JCC donated to the city for the naming rights for the new center.
At a city council meeting in March, Santa Maria Parks and Recreation Director Alex Posada said the city wanted to partner with a group interested in preserving the valley’s agricultural history.
During the meeting, Koyama shared the struggles of the Issei who settled in the area, growing vegetables such as sugar beets, lettuce and strawberries. The monument and the gallery will highlight these stories.
“Most important in the gallery is the space allocated to a monument to recognize the contributions of the Issei to the improvement of the valley. This is where we will need your help to realize our dream of commemorating them, ”he said.
Notable farming families include pioneer Issei HY Minami of Minami & Sons and Setsuo Aratani of Guadalupe Produce Co. Aratani was the first producer to ship lettuce to the area and he sponsored a baseball team that s’ traveled to Japan in 1928. His son, George Aratani, founder of Mikasa and Kenwood Electronics, continued his ties with the region.
“He would come back and donate, sponsor community activities, a golf tournament,” said JoAnne Nishino Spencer, vice president of Santa Maria JCC.
Nishino Spencer’s grandfather, Ichitaro Taniguchi, was an early board member. She remembered going to the community center, where they would have flower arrangement, bonsai and martial arts classes.
“In the old community center, there were Japanese lessons for children my age. It was a good thing. They tried to maintain Japanese culture for future generations, ”she said.
In the fall, members of the community center who had been incarcerated during WWII gathered at the local Methodist church to sign an American flag. As the new JCC Santa Maria opens, they look forward to hosting meetings and carrying on important traditions, including Oshogatsu. Nishino Spencer said they will host a lunch featuring traditional Japanese dishes.
“We have older members who still know how to cook this stuff. Being in the country, we don’t have the grocery store stories that made Japanese food for the New Year, ”she said.
The deadline for artists to submit an interest and qualification submission is January 31. Questions regarding this RFQ / RFP should be submitted by January 18 to Koyama at [email protected] and Nishino Spencer at [email protected]