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.

A watercolor of the tiniest Finn and Jake.


August 15, 2012

I have been working on a large scale for the last month or so (not pictured. Secret!). But I remember my tiny world and look forward to returning to it soon.

Bearing Leaves

August 7, 2012

Bearing Leaves

Ceramic sculpture using local clay and commercial clay with Heino matte turquoise glaze.

by me…Ako Castuera


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’.


June 14, 2012

TinyShowcase has produced a small edition of prints featuring my painting “Rabbit Run”. The image is printed on heavy 290gsm natural white printmaking paper made from 90% bamboo fibres and 10% cotton. The original painting is a watercolor on paint board, and was made for Giant Robot’s Year of The Rabbit show.

It’s an honor to be part of TinyShowcase. They make art affordable, help artists get exposure and profit from their work, and have a built in donation system for a charity chosen by the artist. The quality is excellent too. Everyone wins!

$250 of sales from this print will go to International Rescue Comittee.

Thank you TinyShowcase, and thanks to those who support them/me!

Waving the Wand

June 2, 2012

Hello! I’ve been consumed by storyboarding on Adventure Time, and long overdue on posting the last body of watercolors and sculptures from They Are Us show.
We start here: A portal was created, and life exploded from it.

The sky opened up and projected a bunch of us to the planet.
ark portal

This guy was put in charge of making more of itself.

Fantastic life forms appeared on Earth

This animal is a photosynthesizer.

Some things were made as curiosities.

Harmonious relationships are formed by many of the inhabitants.

The past never ends.

She is a she.

Ladies of the Blue Order are here to have mystical fun.

Dream homes are created and destroyed.

Every day life is weird.

These are connected to each other and wear colorful shoes.

We make the stars tell us stories.

Life is death, minerals, vegetables, animals, and everything else.

more to come soon.

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: