Frank S. Fujii is one of the most important artists and influences in my life and that of thousands of other, there are many men and women of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds, that were fortunate to have Frank as a mentor, teacher or friend and in my case all three. I first met Frank S. Fujii at summer school because I was doing poorly in class attendance and performance, my IQ was 150 and I was an avid reader who would check out as many books as the library would allow, my father was out of the home because of alcoholism and subsequent divorce. I was immediately struck by the quality of Fujii Chan’s abilities as an artist, and though he specifically concentrated on commercial aspects of art in the classroom environment his work and craft was impeccable. Inspired by Frank I later took fine arts classes from great artists of similar skill and reputation; Guy Anderson, Bill Cumming, Don Scott, Charley Stokes, John and Paul Healed, Nan Nadder, at Seattle’s Cornish Allied Art School in the 1960. Many of those same teachers also taught me; anatomy, rendering, color and many fine arts skills at Burnely School for Professional Art also located on Capitol Hill in Seattle, it was only us arrogant art students who debated weather Fine Arts was more reputable than Commercial Art. Frank had prepared me for attending art school at Garfield High School (Horiuchi donated painting) , Cornish, Burnley, U of W Art Dept and W.W.S.C. Art Dept., by not only giving me the foundation basics for learning and applying my craft, but also taught all of us young novices industry and discernment through careful study of our subject matter, and the invaluable ability to accept and learn from the criticism of others.
The first story Frank related to our class was about getting your work completed in a timely fashion the anecdote demonstrated the value of hard work and its eventual reward; Frank and his brother were working in an Alaskan cannery, to make the laborious time pass quicker; they made a game of who could get the most work done quicker, their boss was so impressed by their good nature and industry, he invited them back for the next season.
That was one of the first life lessons Frank taught me and my classmates in that early classroom environment, then for me when later I ran cross country for a different high school team, Frank was instrumental in helping me hone my running and competition skills, both by his wise anecdotal examples and valued critiques of my techniques. I watched and learned from my mentor Frank over the years, who was an excellent educator and role model like my mother, Aki Kurose (1925-1998), and others in the Seattle School Systems; minority teachers having extra burdens (Giri) and obstacles placed in their path, in some instances having to work twice as hard to receive the same recognition and promotions given White counterparts. Because Frank was a Renaissance Person who excelled in so many endeavors, he was able to be; a well respected artist, a great teacher in several meaningful disciplines, a compassionate dedicated administrator in a political junior college position, an authentic lasting role model, and a supportive philanthropist to our Asian Community and Greater City of Seattle. Frank S. Fujii planted and nurtured seeds into the imagination of young idealistic kids like myself, I was always welcomed to contact him and share a few treasured moments in his usually busy schedule, I am proud to be one of the recipients of Frank Fujii’s wonderful legacy
I loving refer to Frank as Fujii San or Fujii Chan, because like that most impressive Japanese mountain, Frank is a noble symbol of unassailable greatness and true compassionate strength.