The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

June 8, 2013

A touch of Japanese culture comes to Clinton

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Clinton will welcome a new business this weekend, the Green Star UI International Art Center.

Founder and president Anna Ito will showcase her Japanese calligraphy paintings along with her homemade jewelry and other decorative pieces.

In addition to being president and founder of UI International LLC, Ito is the executive director of the U.S. division of the Japan Brush Writing Association, a Japanese language and cultural instructor and an instructor at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

Ito moved to Clinton last summer with her husband, Kenneth Graham, to a quaint farmhouse in the country. Having lived in the city all of her life, the quiet nature of rural Iowa has been a big adjustment for her.

"Here it is not very convenient. But, once I started living here, mentally (it) is a good place for an artist," Ito said.

Ito's new appreciation of the nature that surrounds her has been a major inspiration to opening the studio.

"I want people to enjoy the peaceful nature and my art at the same time," Ito said.

Mixing the simplicities of rural living and the glamourous nature of the art community, Ito feels she has a good balance of both.

"I connect art with daily life. People are looking for artistic but still functional," Ito said.

Her handcrafted jewelry is a prime example of that marriage. Ito compliments her simple design scheme with a slight brush stroke painting and transforms a basic piece of jewelry to a lovely accessory.

She hopes opening the studio will give her an opportunity to network as an artist and get to know the people in the community.

"I want to connect to the city. Reach out to the board of education to teach students Japanese calligraphy and culture and get to know people," Ito said.

A grand opening celebration will be at noon today. Green Star UI International Art Center is located at 4364 180th St. Hours of operation will be weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or by appointment only.