International Arts Globetrotter
San Francisco, Tokyo, Mairangi. It’s not hard to pick the odd one out in this trio.
In a career that’s taken him to some of the cultural capitals of the world, Clint Taniguchi has seen and experienced a wealth of artistic opportunity. That creative variety is now on tap for residents of Auckland’s North Shore.
After spotting the General Manager position at the Mairangi Arts Centre (MAC), advertised here on The Big Idea, Taniguchi has been settling into the role and has found himself feeling more and more at home.
Career Shake Up
Taniguchi first arrived on our shores nine years ago, after a successful stint in Tokyo that included being Creative Director for Nakaochiai Gallery and co-founding Japan’s first international Contemporary Art Fair, 101 Tokyo.
But when his world was literally rocked to its core, it was family, not career that shaped his next move.
“My partner Julia, our daughter and I were in Tokyo and after the big earthquake over there, it really shook us up,” Taniguchi recalls. “The decision was going to either Hawaii (where Taniguchi was born and raised) or New Zealand and I think the both of us decided that NZ was a better place to bring up a family. We have no regrets. We're now in our ninth year here, which we can't believe and are really happy with that.”
Returning to his roots
After earning a reputation internationally as a multimedia artist - where his exhibitions were shown at institutions such as San Francisco’s Yerba Beuna Center for the Arts and The Drawing Center in New York City - Taniguchi has spent most of his time in NZ working as a creative director for corporate events and as a consultant for artists.
That's what I'm really excited about...what I'm experiencing right now is ‘wow, what is going on here?’ and being able to really explore that
“That environment wasn't in the arts per se, even though it was creative and working with artists” Taniguchi explains. “It wasn't working in the capacity that I am at right now where I’m doing exhibitions, working with residencies and whatnot, which to me is more in the Fine Art realm, as I was in Tokyo and San Francisco.
“So I'm just getting my feet into that right now with this role… which is really my first integration into the art scene in my time here in Auckland. That's what I'm really excited about...what I'm experiencing right now is ‘wow, what is going on here?’ and being able to really explore that.”
Evan Woodruffe Workshop, January 2020, Mairangi Art Centre
It seems fitting that Taniguchi has landed in New Zealand, both a country and an arts community that prides itself on being a diverse, cultural melting pot.
From the Polynesian themes of his home state of Hawaii, to an arts residency in Umbria, Italy, the supportive and open-minded approach of San Francisco and the competitive, driven environment in Tokyo - Taniguchi has a unique perspective and depth of understanding to support any artist who walks through the doors in Mairangi.
I like the idea of working in engaging and socializing with communities and seeing how art can get that feedback and turn into something else, how it becomes relevant and alive
“Being a contemporary artist, there really aren’t any boundaries and disciplines. You see that a lot of people have multiple talents and skills that are really providing amazing things,” Taniguchi enthuses. “That’s kind of what I’ve just been exploring as well, as I got a degree in painting and was working on abstract paintings, selling them in a gallery and whatnot.
“But I like the idea of working in engaging and socializing with communities and seeing how art can get that feedback and turn into something else, how it becomes relevant and alive and kind of transforming. That's what really motivated me to explore different scenarios, different places and that exploration created that sense of wonder through the experiences - one thing led to the next in terms of opportunities and people that you meet, I think that's the kind of energy that I was drawn to in making decisions.”
Hibiscus and Bays Art Awards Opening
2020 Big for MAC
First opened back in 1991, MAC can lay claim to being one of Auckland’s largest community art centres. With a growing reach and membership spread across the East Coast Bays community, more than 25 tutors are on hand to help guide and encourage their artistic journey.
After seven months in the role, 2020 is shaping as a great opportunity for Taniguchi to switch things up at MAC.
“We have some exciting exhibitions coming up, around the themes of well-being and mental health; working around ideas of play and experimentation and how that kind of experience of playing can really help free us up.“
Taniguchi continues “just recently, we hosted The Awakening with International artist Evan Woodruffe. Evan gave a workshop that we promoted on The Big Idea.
“When I spoke to some of the participants, there were some people just stopping by in from London, and just wanting an experience and I'm just really pleased to have something like this for them to do here.”
This struck a chord with Taniguchi - and he hopes it does with many other walks of life. “It’s not necessarily just Old-Timers that are doing art, there's also people that are new, even people that are visiting that are naturally creative, who just appreciate having something different to do and then go for it and go ‘wow, that's going to be something that's a distinctive moment’”.
“So that's really insightful to see and be inspired about seeing the potential of when you do events and put it up there how it can make a difference. Those are the kind of experiences and programmes that I'm excited to present at MAC this year.”
Artist hones her drawing skills at MAC
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