I had the pleasure of seeing Grand Master Jimmy Mirikitani at the Wing Luke Museum recently. If you haven’t seen the film, The Cats of Mirikitani, please stop reading now and find a copy and watch it. For me, it’s a testament to love and a spirit that would not be extinguished. Jimmy Mirikitani was homeless, living on the streets and making art in New York City when documentary filmmaker Linda Hattendorf became intrigued by this man, and started to film him. We learn that Jimmy was born in the US but his family moved to Hiroshima, Japan when he was young. There he witnessed the deaths of many of his family members in the bombing. After moving back to the US, Jimmy rebuilds his life, which is then interrupted by the Japanese American internment camps. Many years later, Jimmy is in his eighties and is living on the streets. After 9/11, Linda, out of concern for Jimmy’s safety and health, takes him in to live in her apartment. Then his incredible story unfolds, and love and friendship begin to heal old wounds.
How many times have we turned our faces away from the people who are homeless, in need, fragile? Linda Hattendorf did not, and the love and affection that she and Jimmy have for each other is deep and sustaining. Jimmy’s now 93, and living in an apartment and still making art. Love truly does heal.
Jimmy flashes the peace sign whenever he can, saying “Make art, not war.”
And a rare PhotoMura sighting, courtesy of Lucky.