Hiroko Momii moved to Idyllwild in 2012 and joined AAI two days before an art show in July 2012.  File photo/Barbara Reese
Hiroko Momii moved to Idyllwild in 2012 and joined AAI two days before an art show in July 2012.
File photo/Barbara Reese

The Art Alliance of Idyllwild plans to stage a fundraiser to help pay mounting medical and rehabilitation expenses for local artist Hiroko Momii, seriously injured in a May 2014 car accident on Highway 243.

The event takes place as part of the Second Saturday Art Fair that takes place on the grounds of the Idyllwild Community Center, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Saturday, August 9.

Organized in conjunction with AAI and the Elders of the Idyllwild Conversation, the benefit will feature sale of Momii paintings and artwork with 100 percent of sales dedicated to defraying her medical expenses. There will also be a raffle and drawing with one of Hiroko’s paintings as the grand prize.

Momii, on her webpage, quotes Vasily Kadinskey, as to why artists create: “Spirituality is the purpose of art.” Momii explains her own motivation in this way. “My work has been created through my close feelings of affinity with nature and indigenous cultures, which is, by nature, spiritual,” she noted. “I believe in beauty, awe and sublime in life. Painting is the art of reaching that state of being for me. My paintings are about uplifting my spirit and that of the viewer’s.”

Born in Japan, Momii grew up with the traditional Japanese value system – that a woman’s happiness and fulfillment are inextricably tied to her marriage, the home and raising children. She did not, however, feel comfortable in taking on this role as her culture required.

She came to the U.S. in 1979 and while working in a silk screening shop, found her life’s purpose and inspiration – the creation of art and beauty. In 1991 she quit her job and dedicated her life to becoming a painter. In 1994 she enrolled in Cal State Long Beach’s MFA program in painting and drawing and graduated in 1998. She had previously obtained a bachelor’s degree in English at Kobe University in Japan.

Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at galleries in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, New Mexico and in Japan and is part of the collection of the New Orleans Historical Museum as well as collections of many private collectors.

Momii notes that her growth as an artist has directly paralleled her personal spiritual growth. One sustained and enriched the other.

Momii’s injuries were severe and her recovery will take time. As Elizabeth Miller, a member of the Idyllwild Elders relates, “Medicare, at some point a few months ago, inexplicably denied Hiroko further stay in the rehabilitation home, where she was receiving physical therapy. She had to move to a board and care facility where she is now facing large out of pocket medical expenses which she is ill-equipped to pay.”

AAI is asking the Idyllwild community, known as one that reaches out to those in need, to attend the fundraiser, purchase some exquisite, spiritually enriched art and give back to one whose lifework has been a spiritual gift to others.

For more information on the benefit or to volunteer assistance, contact Elizabeth Miller at (951) 659-0550. See Momii’s work at www.hirokomomii.com.