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C California Style

Kay Sekimachi at home. PHOTO: Leslie Williamson.
Bob Stocksdale and Sekimachi, 1992. PHOTO: Christopher Dube.
Sekimachi’s Asian Willow, 1998. PHOTO: M. Lee Merrill.
Stocksdale’s M’Pingo (Tanzania) Bowl with “The Great Wave,” 1999. PHOTO: M. Lee Merrill.
Sekimachi’s Study for 3-D Hanging, c. 1980. PHOTO: M. Lee Merrill.
The Berkeley home workshop. PHOTO: Leslie Williamson.
Her current jewelry projects. PHOTO: Leslie Williamson.

Two of a Kind

by C California Style

A closer look at the life and work of Berkeley’s most creative couple.

Like other artistic power couples—Charles and Ray Eames, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, or even John Lennon and Yoko Ono—the seminal work of Bob Stocksdale (1913‑2003), the father of American wood turning, and master fiber artist and weaver Kay Sekimachi (1926-)- proved that they’re better together. After World War II, Stocksdale, who grew up on a farm in Indiana, moved to California and bought a Victorian duplex in South Berkeley where he set about creating seemingly impossible-to-turn bowls and furniture of diseased and rare woods. Sekimachi began her creative career with origami and art classes offered while her family was in a Japanese internment camp, eventually attending California College of the Arts and becoming a beacon of Berkeley’s contemporary fiber movement.

This month, the Mingei International Museum in San Diego hosts “In the Realm of Nature,” a retrospective look at the couple’s 30-year artistic dialogue. Sekimachi’s translucent sculptural hangings and room dividers, vibrant scrolls and delicate boxes of skeletal leaves are seen amongst Stocksdale’s wooden masterpieces. As curator Signe Mayfield says, “It’s a true marriage of form.” Sept. 13; mingei.org.

By Kelsey McKinnon.