Obituary: Sueo Serisawa

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Sueo Serisawa, 94, of Idyllwild, died Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2004 in San Diego of natural causes.

He was born April 10, 1910 in Yokohama, Japan.

Mr. Serisawa’s father, the artist Yoichi Serisawa, moved his family to Seattle in 1918 and a few years later to Long Beach.

His father’s influence led him into a life of art and teaching.

Mr. Serisawa studied at Otis Art Institute, Scripps College and Kahn Art Institute.

His early work was mostly portraiture, landscapes and still lifes. But as a leading member of the Modernist school in Los Angeles, his later paintings reflected elements of abstraction and cubism.

His first major museum exhibition was held, ironically, on Dec. 7, 1941 at the Los Angeles County Museum.

Because of World War II, Mr. Serisawa had to leave the West Coast. He lived both in Colorado and Chicago, where he studied at the Chicago Art Institute for a year. He then moved to New York in 1943 where his work received wide recognition at various East Coast exhibitions.

He returned to the West Coast in 1947, later teaching both at the Kahn Institute of Art and Scripps College.

He continued to exhibit, winning many substantial awards, and his increasing international reputation led to private classes for such Hollywood notables as Edward G. Robinson, Claire Trevor and Frances Marion.

Mr. Serisawa has influenced many artists internationally and his work continues to be exhibited. Earlier this year, it was featured in “California Modernism: The Legacy of Five Exceptional Artists: Mabel Alvarez, Edward Biberman, Boris Deutsch, Francis de Erdely, and Sueo Serisawa” at the Spencer Jon Helfen Fine Arts gallery in Beverly Hills.

A special exhibit of his work called “Poetry in Painting” is on exhibit at the Mingei International Museum’s Warren Theater Gallery at Balboa Park in San Diego.

He married Marsha Davis in the mid-1970s and they moved to Idyllwild.

No services are scheduled.

Along with his wife, Mr. Serisawa is survived by a daughter, Margaret Marcotte of Montecito; one grandson, Gregory Geyer; two great grandchildren; and four stepchildren, Steve Davis, Katherine Davis, Judson Davis and Clifford Davis.

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