Former Vice-President featured at Whittier Hillcrest Art Festival

Rio Hondo former staff member Yoshio Nakamura, will be featured at the 55th Hillcrest Festival of Fine Arts on Feb. 20, and Feb. 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 22., from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

At 89 years old, Nakamura’s age has not put a dent in his enthusiasm for life.

Even years after his retirement, he continues to teach and is known throughout the campus for his uplifting view on life; a belief that has bid him well over the years.

In February 1942, President Roosevelt succumbed to the pressure of his advisors, the anti-Japanese paranoia overtaking the United States since the attack on Pearl Harbor and signed an executive order allowing the government the right to uproot all families of Japanese descent from their homes.

It was at the young age of 16 Nakamura was forced to move to the Tulare Assembly Center in San Joaquin Valley.

At an age of self-discovery, when the world had suddenly become a bigger place, fear is around every corner and none of it is nearly as fair as it should be; he had no choice but to face the prejudice of an entire country.

Despite not only his innocence but also that of 127,000 other Japanese-Americans, Nakamura was obligated to wait out his fate as the American government dictated it so.

In 1944 Nakamura reported for active duty in the U.S. Army. Inducted into the 442nd Regimental team, composed entirely of Japanese-Americans, he traveled to France and Italy as a part of the heavy weapons group.

Nakamura received the Medal of Honor for his combat in Italy and a Bronze Star for battlefield performance, Later on; he and many of his fellow soldiers were presented with the Congressional gold medal.

Upon the end of his tour of duty he traveled around Europe to visit museums and the art it had to offer.

He returned to the states, studied fine arts at USC and earned a bachelor’s degree there in 1952.

While he studied for his MFA Nakamura took a job as a teacher at Whittier High School, where he is still remembered fondly until this day.

He was given the Teacher of the Year award in 1960 by the Whittier and San Gabriel Valley Federation of Women’s clubs.

It was in 1963 when Nakamura signed on to be a formal part of the Rio Hondo staff.

It was also the very first year Rio Hondo College had been formed, with Nakamura as the first Department of Fine Arts Chair.

He followed his passion for teaching and over the years became a vital part to the school.

He worked as a Fine Arts Chairman, professor, Dean of community services and as the Dean and Vice President of community services and Institutional Development.             Although he retired in 1992, Nakamura has not sat idly by.

His love for his work and helping others has kept him busy and in the spotlight.

In October of 2012, his mixed media work was exhibited in the Rio Hondo College Art Gallery.

In as recently as this past New Year’s Day he sat on the City of Alhambra’s “Go for Broke” float that honored the 442nd Regiment.

Even though his life has not been easy, he is truly a testament to what it means to rise above the occasion, a trait that has clearly been passed down to his grandson, Kai Nakamura.

Presently his grandson, Kai Nakamura, is suffering from an incurable heart condition.

The family has posted a video on YouTube to bring awareness and raise funds to find a cure.

In it Kai explains his situation and has taken on the spirit of a true artist by expressing himself through his art.

The festival will be held at Hillcrest Congregational Church and is open to all.

Admission is free. Over 200 artists will display and sell their artwork.

Some of the art will include: watercolor and oil paintings, sculpture, hand-woven items, photography, mixed media, ceramics, pottery, stained glass, woodworking, and jewelry.

Nakamura’s work will be placed alongside of fellow artist Armando Baeza.

The Hillcrest Festival of Fine Arts started 55 years ago as a community outreach project to celebrate every form of art.

It is located near the border of Whittier and La Habra Heights at: 2000 West Road, La Habra Heights.

For more information please log onto:www.hillcrestfestivaloffinearts.com or call (562) 947-3755.