toru sugita

Toru Sugita

Toru Sugita of Albany, an art instructor at Diablo Valley College since 2009, currently has an exhibit, “Bay Area Shapes—Etchings by Toru Sugita” at Caffe Museo, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).  

The exhibit runs through April 17, with an artist reception set for 6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in the Caffe Museo at the SFMOMA, 151 Third Street in San Francisco. 

Sugita is an internationally recognized artist, and is one of the artists of the SFMOMA Artists Gallery. He was offered the show when he went to give an educational lecture to museum staff members on various printmaking processes. The Artists Gallery is under the SFMOMA umbrella but represents only local Bay Area artists, and is in charge of the wall space in Caffe Museo, the first floor restaurant in the SFMOMA. 

As a teenager, Sugita became interested in art when he saw Claude Monet’s “Cathedral of Rouen” series, which depicts sunlight from various times. “Since I was an early teen,” he said, “I have been looking at afternoon light and shadows.” That was the impetus for his  “Bay Area Shapes” exhibit. 

“Etching and aquatint help me express my interest towards light and shadow by using rich tones of black and white,” Sugita said. “The graphic nature of black and white leads me to lines and shapes found in architectural elements. Once I eliminated color from my work, I found myself drawn to the exploration of space itself. My work became about the physicality of three-dimensional space.” 

A native of Japan, Sugita, a printmaker and painter, earned a Bachelor of Education in Art from the Kyoto University of Education in Japan in 1987. He was a research student in the Printmaking Department at Kyoto Seika University for a year, and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Printmaking from San Francisco State University, Fine Arts Department, in May 2003. In printmaking, he works in etching and aquatint, wood engraving, and wood block; he also works with oil painting and Sumi ink drawing. 

From 1991 to 1993, Sugita spent time traveling extensively throughout Latin America, the Middle East, West Asia, and the United States, finally establishing a residence in San Francisco. After earning his Master of Fine Arts degree at SFSU, he became actively involved in the community as an artist and art educator. In 2006, he moved to Grand Junction, CO, for a teaching position at Colorado Mesa University. He returned to the Bay Area in 2009 as an assistant professor of art at DVC, where he is currently in charge of the printmaking program. 

Sugita is actively showing his artwork throughout the United States, Europe, Japan and Latin America. His prints can be found in various public collections, among them the Achenbach Foundation of Graphic Arts in the Fine Art Museum of San Francisco, the Royal Museum of Antwerp in Belgium, the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the Machida Museum of Graphic Arts in Tokyo, and the Special Collection of Stanford University Libraries at Stanford University in Palo Alto. 

He has won many awards, from Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan to Hawaii and Colorado, and in California from Berkeley and San Francisco to Pomona.  He also has had more than 100 solo and group exhibitions all across the United States, from California to New York, as well as in Canada, Costa Rica, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Finland, France, and of course, Japan. 

In addition, Sugita currently is organizing a national juried art exhibition, “Inked Surfaces,” to be held August 27 – September 28 at the Diablo Valley College Art Gallery. Original works in all traditional printmaking media are eligible. From the selected exhibited works, which come from all over the country, the juror, Archana Horsting, Executive Director of the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, will select two prize winners. The first-prize winning artist will win a solo exhibit at the Diablo Valley College Art Gallery in 2013. The second-prize winner will win a one-month residency at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, and will be able to use the Institute’s printmaking studio for a month. 

Sugita is a member of the California Society of Printmakers, Graphic Arts Workshop, and Los Angeles Printmakers Society professional organizations. He has also taught at a number of art centers, school districts, colleges and universities in California, Colorado and Japan.