Watercolors by Jean Fujio at the BankRI Turks Head Gallery

The BankRI Galleries present:
BankRI Turks Head Gallery: “Watercolors by Jean Fujio,” February 4 through March 2, 2016 at the BankRI Turks Head branch in downtown Providence at One Turks Head Place..  Exhibit hours are Monday through Wednesday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information, contact www.bankri.com or call 401 574-1330.

Jean Fujio , Gallery Night Providence

Jean Fujio exhibits watercolors at the BankRI Turks Head Gallery February 4 through March 2, 2016.


Jean Fujio’s hands are always in motion. She is not a woman prone to sitting and day dreaming over a cup of tea, instead Fujio is a maker.  These days she makes quilts and watercolors.

Curious and modest, the 78-year old has the aura of a much younger woman.  She is constantly trying new things and testing boundaries, something she has done all her life.

Raised in Wisconsin, Fujio grew up in a conservative mid-western family. Like her brother, who apprenticed with architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Fujio didn’t quite fit in. Drawn to the creative arts, she sewed and did needlework.  She took classes in cutting and polishing gemstones.  And she trained as a metalsmith.

Her path took her to college and then art school at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where she met her husband-to-be, Yuho Fujio.  A talented metalsmith, Yuho had immigrated from Japan.  Both were in the same metals class, but Yuho had the greater knowledge and often helped his classmates and showed his teachers new techniques. They became friends and then more than friends.  Married in 1963, they moved to Rhode Island in 1988 for Yuho’s job as a jewelry designer.

Fujio decided metalsmithing was not for her.  She found the materials colorless and resistant.  She returned to one of her first loves, quilting, but felt restricted by the commercial fabrics and colors available. As her skills as a quilt maker grew, she experimented with hand dyed fabrics to get the colors she wanted. In 2007 she picked up a brush and started taking watercolor classes with Alice Broadbent, and later Jerry Aissis in Cumberland.  Two drawing classes with Elaine Gauthier were also very helpful.  She’s finally found the color she was looking for and she has been enjoying herself ever since.

“I always liked dyeing fabric,” Fujio says “but melding and layering colors in watercolors – that’s where the fun is.”

Her watercolors celebrate themes of farm, nature and work.  Fujio travels with a camera in hand taking shots of scenes that interest her – a quarry off Route 146, a tractor, flowers, or derelict structures. The treatment is traditional with a twist.  The colors are subtle, layered and quietly rich.

One of the defining moments of Fujio’s life happened when she was twelve.  Excited about a painting of a lake she was working on, Fujio approached her art teacher.  “I showed the teacher,” Fujio recalls.  “‘She asked me what’s that?’  And I said, ‘it’s a lake.’  ‘It doesn’t look like a lake,’ the teacher said.  I walked out of the art class and never went back.” It’s taken Fujio 50 plus years to pick up a brush again and this time, she’s not letting go.

The BankRI Galleries are curated by Paula Martiesian, a Providence-based artist and arts advocate.

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