An Artist with Nine Lives

Throughout 92-year-old Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani’s long and tumultuous life — losing his citizenship during World War II, then regaining it after the end of the war; being homeless in New York after 9/11 — there has been one constant: art. The Japanese-American artist creates brightly colored drawings that tell his story through pictures of internment camps, the atomic bomb, and lots and lots of beautiful cats. “I like the simplicity and the playfulness in some of the paintings and drawings, even though I know there’s a very heavy story underneath it,” says Damon McLeese, director of Access Gallery, which is hosting a show of the artist’s originals on loan from the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle through June 27.

While Mirikitani was selling his drawings on the streets of New York, he met filmmaker Linda Hattendorf, who wound up taking him into her home and making a documentary, The Cats of Mirkitani, that covers his life and work. Both Hattendorf and the artist will be in town for a series of Mirikitani-themed events that kick off with the free First Friday opening of The Artwork of Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight at Access Gallery, 909 Santa Fe Drive. By purchasing a special $50 ticket at, you can at-tend a reception at the gallery at 5 p.m. tomorrow, where you’ll be able to meet the artist, director and producer; that ticket is also good for a 2 p.m. screening on Sunday, July 8, of The Cats of Mirkitani at the Denver FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. For more information, go to or
July 6-27, 2012

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Robin Edwards
Contact: Robin Edwards