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Sonia Romero's Folk Art Featured in Little Tokyo

The medallions feature popular Japanese icons and bear evidence to one Highland Park artist's dedication to craft.

The Daruma and Maneki dolls have for centuries been considered talismans of good fortune in Japanese Culture. As of this week, they will look down on the pedestrians of Little Tokyo, thanks to the craftsmanship and care of Highland Park artist Sonia Romero.

Romero's 40 powder coated medallions, which depict prominent Japanese folk art images, were installed on 1st, 2nd, 3rd and San Pedro Streets and Central Avenue in Little Tokyo on Wednesday, Sept. 12.

In addition to the Daruma and the Maneki, Romero also created images of the popular Japanese Kokeshi dolls and of the folded fan, the signature image of little Tokyo.

The project was commissioned by the Community Redevelopment Agency in 2010 and approved by both the Little Tokyo Community Council and the Little Tokyo Business Improvement District.

Romero, who own She Rides the Lion studio in Highland Park, is the daughter of muralist Frank Romero and granddaughter of Edith Wyle, the founder of the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum in Mid-Wilshire.

She said she drew on her knowledge of folk art to create the medallions.

“I used my family's deep connection with folk art to relate to this project. By depicting these popular, traditional Japanese icons, I was able to honor the culture of Little Tokyo and Japan, and highlight my own dedication to craft," she said.  "I love the way you can see the buildings, foliage and signage through my artwork. My view point is there, but it is woven into the already rich layers of the neighborhood."

carol van beek September 16, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Haven't been to Little Tokyo, but saw a few of these on the gallery floor while on the Sat. Night Art Walk. They looked wonderful, bright and vibrant up close and the photos look wonderful as well. How long will they be up?
Tina Gulotta-Miller September 16, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Sonia Romero's work is amazing. The fans for the public installation in Little Tokyo are beautiful. They appear to be a long term installation and are fastened to the street light posts along Little Tokyo. They also seem to be removable from the posts they are fastened to. I could see her doing something in Highland Park like this along Figueroa and York. It would bring color and identity to the commercial sectors as well as decorating our streets with art and would elevate the district.
Sonia Romero September 19, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Hi Carol, this installation is permanent. Sonia
Sonia Romero September 19, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I would love to do this in Highland Park. Who do I talk to?

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