Categotry Archives: Artists


Kenji Ekuan


Categories: Artists, Business


From London to Los Angeles, the sight of a shapely bottle sitting on a table at a Japanese restaurant signals the promise of a fresh meal seasoned by the salty sauce of soy.

You may never have given this condiment container much thought; for decades it has always been there, waiting for you to reach out and use on your platter of sushi. But the ubiquitous red-topped glass container with its dripless polystyrene spout didn’t exist before 1961. It came from the mind of Kenji Ekuan and his team, and was created for the Kikkoman Corporation.

#lapotenza #kikkoman #bottle #kenjiekuan #soysauce #sketch #japan #design #vintage

A photo posted by Fabian Schmidt (@lapotenza) on

According to a 2012 article in The New York Times, the iconic tear-shaped bottle has been in continuous production ever since. To date, more than 300 million dispensers have been sold worldwide.

Ekuan’s soy sauce dispenser has even been recognized as a work of art. In the mid-oughts, the bottle was added to the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of its Humble Masterpieces exhibition, which honors the design of everyday objects.

soy sauce
Photo by Kiersten Chou

Ekuan graduated from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. He became an industrial designer, a maker of the things we use every day (and often can’t imagine life without).

Ekuan founded GK Industrial Design Associates in 1957, which later became the GK Design Group. Today GK Design comprises eight domestic and four international firms providing product, transportation, environmental and communication design.

Over the course of his illustrious six-decade career, Ekuan designed the distinctive Akita bullet train and motorcycles for Yamaha. Considered Japan’s foremost industrial designer, Ekuan was also the author of “The Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox” and several other books.

For his contributions, Ekuan received many honors, including the ICSID Colin King Grand Prix, the International Design Award, The Blue Ribbon Medal, the Sir Misha Black Medal and the Order of the Rising Sun.

Ekuan died on Feb. 8 of a heart rhythm disorder, Kyodo reported. He was 85.

–Originally published in The Huffington Post.


Michele Savoia

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Categories: Artists, Uncategorized

msavoia1Menswear designer Michele Savoia, who created stylish clothing for movie stars, has died. He was 55.

“Savoia the Tailor” was last seen around 4 a.m. on Feb. 13, leaving Paris Hilton’s party at the Manhattan nightclub Marquee. He was reported missing on Saturday morning by his driver and his body was discovered Sunday afternoon in the icy Hudson River near his house boat.

Cause of death has not been determined, pending an autopsy.

Born in Hoboken, N.J., Savoia originally wanted to become a cartoonist for Disney. He switched gears after an art teacher he adored encouraged him to use his talent for something more serious, like fashion. Savoia’s father and grandfather also inspired him to become a fashion designer.

“My father ran night clubs, and my Sicilian grandfather was a master tailor, who landed in Hoboken from Ellis Island in 1933. Basically, my father taught me how to dress, and Popop taught me how to tailor,” Savoia told Fashion Daily Weekly in 2011.

Savoia graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in the 1970s. He trained under designer Bill Kaiserman, then launched the House of Savoia in 1984. The firm was soon dressing Hollywood stars like Matt Dillon, Robert DeNiro, Chris Noth and Mickey Rourke. Savoia created costumes for Broadway shows as well, including the revival of “Evita” and Nora Ephron’s posthumous play, “Lucky Guy.”

The self-proclaimed “bad boy of fashion” also designed nightclub interiors and owned two clubs — Fat Black Pussycat and The Cheetah Club — until the mid-1990s.

Outside of work, Savoia was an old-school New Yorker with a penchant for the art deco era. He liked to smoke, ride motorcycles, buy accessories on eBay, listen to Tony Bennett, watch crime films and get tattoos.

Savoia is survived by a daughter, Gabriella Rocco Savoia.

Originally published in The Huffington Post.

Michele Savoia for from StyleLikeU on Vimeo.


Pippa Bacca

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Categories: Artists

pbacca.jpgPippa Bacca was married to an ideal; she believed in the kindness of humanity. That faith inspired the Italian performance artist to embark on a pilgrimage of the Middle East, dressed as a “Peace Bride.”
Bacca and fellow artist Silvia Moro hitch-hiked from Milan to Israel and the Palestinian Territories as part of the “Brides on Tour” project. They separated in Istanbul with plans to reunite in Lebanon.
“Ultimately, this long performance, this thumbing through countries devastated by wars, aimed to spreading a message of peace, of trust in people we would meet during the travel,” Moro stated. “We wanted to witness the mutual relationship of different cultures, particularly referring to feminine figure and role, by collecting written documents, but also by making videos and taking pictures of those meetings, of those people’s [lives], of their works and also of women’s conditions.”
The brides intended to end their journey by washing their wedding dresses during a public art performance in Tel Aviv. But Bacca disappeared on March 31.
Her naked body was found near the Turkish city of Gebze on April 11. Turkish police arrested Murat Karatas, 38, after he inserted his SIM card into Bacca’s cell phone. He has reportedly confessed to raping and strangling her. Bacca’s camera and pieces of her necklace were later found in Karatas’ home.
Born Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, Bacca was the niece of the late conceptual Italian artist Piero Manzoni. When she wasn’t promoting peace around the world, the 33-year-old resided in Milan.
An exhibition titled “Barisin Gelini: Pippa Bacca” (Peace Bride: Pippa Bacca) will appear at the Taksim Art Gallery in Istanbul from May 17 to May 27. The Byblos Art Gallery in Verona also plans to show photographs and other items from Bacca’s trip during an exhibit this autumn.
View a tribute posted on YouTube.


Maila Nurmi

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Categories: Actors, Artists, Hollywood

mnurmi.jpgMaila Nurmi, an actress and artist who became the queen of the B-movie scene in Los Angeles, died on Jan. 10. Cause of death was not released. She was 85.

Born Maila Elizabeth Syrjaniemi in Petsamo, Finland, Nurmi immigrated to America when she was just a toddler. Although she grew up in Ohio, Nurmi moved to New York in her late teens to try and break into show business. The actors and artists she met in Manhattan persuaded her to change her name and head to Hollywood. For Nurmi, the trappings of stardom were simply too enticing to pass up.

While auditioning for roles, Nurmi worked as a chorus girl and pin-up model. In 1953, she won a costume contest at the annual Bal Caribe Masquerade, an event that brought her to the attention of KABC-TV Channel 7 program director Hunt Stromberg Jr. He tracked her down months later and offered her a job as the host of a late-night horror program.

That’s how Nurmi became Vampira, a gothic enchantress reminiscent of Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons. Each week, the Black Madonna of Hollywood would appear on camera wearing a slinky black dress, blood-red lipstick and darkly mascaraed eyes, and introduce fright films like “Revenge of the Zombies” and “Devil Bat’s Daughter.”
Although “The Vampira Show” was canceled after about a year, Nurmi became a cult figure among B-movie buffs. Her legions of admirers launched fan clubs in her honor all over the world. Many felt she inspired the character of Morticia Addams on “The Addams Family,” which premiered about a decade later. Nurmi, however, believed her dark persona was stolen by Cassandra Peterson, an actress who created the horror movie hostess Elvira. She even filed a $10 million lawsuit against Peterson for pirating her trademark image, but lost the court battle.

Nurmi later appeared in several B-movies, including “Sex Kittens Go to College,” “The Beat Generation,” “The Magic Sword” and “The Big Operator.” She also made a memorable appearance in Ed Wood’s 1959 cult classic, “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” But these pictures didn’t pay the bills, and Nurmi was forced to support herself as a linoleum-layer, carpenter, housekeeper, clothing designer and antique shop owner. More recently, she painted pictures of Vampira that she sold on the Internet.

Privately, Nurmi was a self-described psychic with a talent for clairaudience, and a passionate advocate for animals rights. Her life story was chronicled in the 2006 documentary “Vampira: The Movie.”


Doug Marlette

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Categories: Artists, Media, Writers/Editors

Doug Marlette, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, educator and author, died on July 10 in a car accident. He was 57.
Born in North Carolina, Marlette became interested in cartooning when he was in the first grade. Consumed by the need to create, he ignored the advice of a counselor who once warned him that artists “were a dime a dozen,” and studied art and philosophy at Florida State University. Marlette launched his artistic career in 1972 drawing editorial cartoons for The Charlotte Observer. He later worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Newsday, the Tallahassee Democrat and the Tulsa World.
Over the course of the next 35 years, Marlette created enough cartoons to fill half a dozen books. He also won the National Headliners Award for Consistently Outstanding Editorial Cartoons three times, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for editorial cartooning twice and the First Prize in the John Fischetti Memorial Cartoon Competition twice. The only cartoonist ever awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, Marlette even won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his work at the Observer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Not everyone appreciated his perspective however. In 2002, Marlette drew a cartoon that depicted an Arab driving a rental truck with a nuclear weapon on board. The caption read: “What Would Muhammad Drive?” Soon after the cartoon’s publication, Marlette received more than 20,000 e-mails, including numerous death threats, and was denounced on the front page of the Saudi Arab News by the secretary general of the Muslim World League.
In 1981, Marlette launched Kudzu, a comic strip featuring a teen who dreams of leaving his tiny hometown to become a writer. Syndicated worldwide in hundreds of newspapers, Kudzu strips were also collected into seven volumes. The final strip will be published on Aug. 26.
When he wasn’t creating political and/or humorous cartoons, Marlette penned an ethics column for Esquire and contributed to The New Republic, The Nation, Men’s Journal, The Paris Review, the Columbia Journalism Review and He also co-wrote the screenplay, ‘Ex,’ with Pat Conroy, the bestselling author of “The Prince of Tides.” In 2001, Marlette delved into the fiction realm with the publication of “The Bridge.” The novel was voted Best Book of the Year for Fiction by the Southeast Booksellers Association, and one of the best books of the last five years by BookSense, the American Booksellers Association. His second novel, “Magic Time,” was published in 2006.
Most recently, Marlette taught at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at the University of Oklahoma’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He was inducted into the UNC Journalism Hall of Fame in 2002.
Marlette was riding in the passenger seat of a car driven by John Davenport, a Mississippi high school theater director, when it skidded across a rain-slicked road and smashed into a tree. The cartoonist was visiting Mississippi to help a group of students produce a musical based on his “Kudzu” comic strip. Davenport was not seriously injured in the accident.
On July 12, N.C. Governor Michael F. Easley selected Marlette to posthumously receive the honor of membership to the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the head of that state.
“I always thought it was going to be Doug giving the eulogy at my funeral,” Conroy said at Marlette’s funeral service. “He used to make up eulogies about me. The obituary would start: ‘An unknown writer died on Fripp Island…'”
View Marlette’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning Cartoons
Listen to a Tribute From NPR

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