ImFriends Catch these guys at the ‘Imaginary Friends’ show at Gallery Nucleus now through 5/11/2014 I have 3 new works that combine hand knitting with high fired ceramics.  I loved making these pieces! I used to spend all my time creating small creatures out of odd bits and scraps I collected from my grandpa’s fishing gear and my mom’s sewing box.  Making these new guys took me back to that time of total absorption and satisfaction. Sun Star Pal: IMG_3080 video of Sun Star Pal:

Super Birmaid on the needles: unnamed And finished: birman   Sun Star Kami front: size500_IF_AkoCastuera_EarthSkyKami_500 back:size500_IF_AkoCastuera_EarthSkyKami_detail1_500


Summer solo

March 16, 2014

My show at Gr2 in Los Angeles last September.  All work by Ako Castuera, all photos by Joyce Kim magicBodiesSign







Now that I’m in between shows I’ll be working on a new website with more photos of sculptures from this show and other recent stuff.
Thanks to Eric Nakamura and the Giant Robot family, Rob Sato, Junzo Mori & Xiem clay center, This Repair Shop, and everybody who came, collected or otherwise supported me!

November 13, 2012

Leafs Beast

Hello, I am back from a round trip journey across the country. I hope to post more about that later. Right now I’m just enjoying a moment of quiet readjustment. The season is changing and it’s time for me to switch gears to my storyboarding job. I feel pretty good. Thought I’d post this image of my sculpture because I just realized it’s about transition.

Space 1026 in Philadelphia

October 4, 2012

Tomorrow will see the opening of the three person show Ako Ryohei Rob New Work and Then Some at Philadelphia’s Space 1026. The show was curated by our friend the marvelous Kris Chau, who orchestrated this complicated operation from/between at least 3 time zones while she worked and moved across the country. Ryohei Tanaka came all the way from Tokyo with his mom and sister to join up with Rob and I. The 3 of us have been bffs since the end of the 20th century when we met in Oakland, which is where we also met Kris. So this show is a love fest that celebrates friendship that has spanned across oceans and years and is part of the foundation of our creative lives. Rob will be showing recent watercolor and graphite works, Ryohei will be dazzling all with his cut out paper art, and I’ll present fresh from the kiln ceramic sculptures with a smattering of painted stuff.
We started installation last night at Space 1026 where we were lucky to meet some really nice people, including Richy who is helping us with EVERY THING including chocolate covered edamame, and Sean, who wrote an article in the Philly weekly and showed up to hang out and take some photos (which can be seen HERE. Here are a couple shots he took.

Porcelain Pegasus with cargo (according to legend Pegasus carries Zeus’ lightning bolts, but these are just beads)

We don’t know a lot of people in Philly, but we have been supported by an extended friendship web that starts with Kris Chau and spins outward in a magic penny spiral that is very heartwarming to experience. Many thanks to her and her family of friends and Space 1026. I hope we’ll see you at the opening on Friday!

Surface World

September 27, 2012

I’m slowly expanding my range of surface treatments for ceramics. This is a dizzying world of color and chemistry, with so many variables and opportunities to create beauty and interest it makes me a little crazy.
Above: Sleeping Ginko Vessel and detail.

Below: One Eyed Owl

One Eyed Owl (detail)

Branching Stegosaurus

Milk and Mud Pitcher

These pieces will be on display at Space 1026 in Philadelphia from October 5th through the 26th. >>>LINK<<

Eric Nakamura pulled off another tremendous exhibition. This show made me feel the weird love that fuels Giantrobot and makes it a community rather than just another garish retail nexus. A lot of people worked very hard to get this show up and running, not just the artists but a band of dedicated, power drill wielding art lovers and volunteers. The museum staff at JANM was a delight to work with, and they went beyond their jobs to make this show special. I’m grateful to be featured in this show, it’s been an amazing opportunity that pushed me to work beyond my previous limits.
Another thing I really enjoy about this show is sharing a gallery space with Robert Sato, my dearest friend and partner of many years. As artists the development over the years is significant. I’m glad we stuck to it and to each other (more about that when I post about the next show, a three person with myself, Rob, and our super amigo Ryohei Tanaka).
Anyhow, this show will be up until January 20! The turnout for the opening was great, I’m only sorry that I didn’t do a better job promoting it BEFORE instead of after the opening. I was going nuts with the set up!
Big thanks to everyone who braved the crowd and horrible parking situation to come see the show! It means a lot to me to see you there.
Lastly, here’s a shot of Rob and me in fancy dress. As this event is informally known as the GR prom, we got fancy to the max. It was fun.

(Photo by Amanda Francis Movlai)

The Portal (Mr. Mojo)

September 25, 2012

(photo by Jesse Moynihan)

This summer Xiem clay center allowed me to set up on the patio and come everyday for 20 days to build a large version of a 5 inch sculpture I had done earlier. It was the most fun I’ve had working on a project and also the most physically exhausting thing I’ve done since my Lord of the Flies adventure with Outward Bound when I was 15.
Time, space and opportunity coincided almost unbelievably to make this thing possible. Luck was another factor, and so was the generosity of the students, members, and staff at the studio. I was constantly forgetting my camera, so I’m really happy that others were willing to document some of this. Thanks Beth Katz for the progress photos!

These happy days of building were followed by the harrowing period of time when the piece was cut up, disassembled, left to dry, then finally loaded in the kiln to be treated to temperatures of over 2,000 degrees (cone 10). Nightmares kept me company for three weeks. When we unloaded the kiln there was some warping and cracking, but nothing exploded! I rejoice…Nothing exploded or cracked or warped beyond repair. Transporting the pieces to JANM was another bit of risky business, but thanks to Matt all went well. Here’s the guy, like a patient in pieces at the musem:
Here’s what the initial set up looked like, with mixed media treatment around the torso. Changed my mind last minute cause it felt cluttered.
(photo from Giantrobot website)

The Portal (aka Mr. Mojo, aka Kris Chau’s clay boyfriend) will be on exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum until January 20th.

Rob Sato, Kris Chau, Eric Nakamura and Clement Hanami helped me with the final set up. I’m enormously relieved and happy to have seen this through. Thanks to all who offered help and support.


June 25, 2012

I’m taking a break from storyboarding for the summer, and I’ll be deep in clay and paint and hopefully some textile stuff too. In the meantime, images from the last show will be trickling in through here as I organize them.

This is the one of the first things I made with a mix of the clay I dug up and the clay from the ceramic studio. I was so happy to see him come out of the kiln, the clay had transformed from red porous stuff into this beautiful metallic iron colored body, and I set him up like a mascot on my work table. He remains there to deter the fears that loom in my mind when I’m going into a creative head space.
In the studio

I learned the word “psychopomp” after reading a post on the excellent blog erratic phenomena. A psychopomp is an creature or deity who mediates between conscious and unconscious realms, the literal translation is ‘a guide of souls’.

They Are Us

April 4, 2012

I’m having an art show!



They Are Us – New Work by Ako Castuera

April 7 – May 2, 2012
Opening reception Saturday April 7th 2012, 6:30-10pm

GR2 – 2062 Sawtelle Blvd LA, CA 90025 310 445 9276

It’s my first solo show.  I’m pretty stoked!  


March 30, 2012

I made this thing:

clay is so fresh.

A couple years ago I learned how to dig up and process wild clay from Christopher Nyerges, who teaches things like how to identify plants and make fire out of sticks, string, batteries, etc. I hope to always classify these skills as recreational novelties, because I never want to be in a situation where I have to make a figure-four deadfall to trap a squirrel so I can eat its tiny flesh.

On the other hand, I want to use clay every day. I love every step of this process, which begins with a walk in the foothills of Sierra Madre, Ca:
I locate some red clay, dig up some chunks, and carry it home.

Then I dump the chunks of clay in a bucket, breaking them up with my hands and sifting the rocks and plant debris out of the mix. I used a regular sifter from the market.

After that, I lined a colander with some cotton rags and put it over a bucket. The wet, sifted clay was poured into the colander and took about a week to drain to the the consistency I wanted to work with.

The wild clay can be mixed with commercial clays. I have been mixing it with Laguna brand B-mix (cone 10) at a percentage of 50/50. At 100% the natural clay is beautiful, but cannot be fired at cone 10. It’s lovely in pit fires though, for folks with gumption and firewood.

Some finished work: