As I was wandering along the streets of Nolita in New York, an interesting painting from one of the shopfronts across the street caught my attention. The shop sign said ‘Moe’s meat market’. I crossed over and as I peered in, a sweet couple opened the door and invited me in. They walked me straight into the back of the shop. I was still trying to figure out where I was while observing all the amazing artworks on display. I soon found out I was in artist Robert Kobayashi’s gallery. The first thing he told me was, ‘look at these turtles!’ as he pointed at his backyard. He was very proud of his turtles. Next to him was a very nice lady, Kate Keller, whom I assumed was his wife. Kate told me about the background of the artist and his style of work. Robert Kobayashi makes paintings and sculptures from pounded metal, scraps cut from decorative stamped ceiling tin and beer cans collected by neighbors. While she was explaining, he asked me ‘Are you an artist? What do you do?’. I had a very nice conversation with him and was reminded how much I wanted to be an artist once. I could feel his passion through his eyes as we spoke. I was inspired again. Robert Kobayashi age 84, moved to New York from Hawaii after World War II and started doing his art ever since. He gave up on fame long ago but opened his gallery in his 80s as he wanted to ‘test it out’. He continues to work every day in the studio in his small upstairs apartment while keeping watch over the street. I guess when you have the passion for something, you’ll just keep doing it.
On my way out I wanted to take a picture of the artist but I was too shy, so you can only see his back view in the last picture.
It was a magical encounter!