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Storytellers: The Art Warrior

“My family comes from samurai ancestors so that influences my work. I paint that kind of imagery a lot.”

DENVER — People taking in the art in RiNo have come to know some of the artists shaping the neighborhood -- their art brings color and life to the alleyways.

Casey Kawaguchi is one of those artists.

And with his art, he’s bringing some of his culture to the alley.

“My family comes from samurai ancestors so that influences my work. I paint that kind of imagery a lot,” Kawaguchi explained.

He uses those influences to create striking Japanese imagery.

“I try to obtain, in my work, a balance between complexity and simplicity at the same time,” he said. 

Along with inspiration from monks and the martial arts.

“(I) almost relate it to a martial art, in the same way, it's symbolic of something internal that’s being mastered along with that physical discipline,” he said. 

There's a familiar character found in most of his work.

“It's kind of an art warrior, that’s how I see her,” he said. “It represents my own inner creative battle when you’re painting.”

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Kawaguchi’s work has been seen as a depiction of Denver’s diversity. However, that’s something that he never planned when he started working in Denver.

“It’s a weird thing to think about, but it’s cool," Kawaguchi said. "It’s not my main focus necessary of my work, like a reason why I’m doing it, but becoming more and more important to me and understanding what my work does represent to people beyond myself, what it means to me personally.”

And that holds some special meaning to him.

“I feel lucky to be able to represent my heritage in my work and that it is embraced by the city and so many people,” he explained.  “It feels very good.”

Kawaguchi hopes his work inspires people.

“I see those kids, any kid that likes my art. I look at them as me as a little kid and how much I know it would have changed my whole life to see someone work on a wall like this use spray paint and be inspired like that,” Kawaguchi said.

But most importantly he hopes people realize how true his work is to himself.

“I just hope people feel that the work is true, it represents a deep part of myself, which is Japanese American.”

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