Artist Jun Kaneko © Laurie & Charles Photographs
Jun Kaneko was born in Nagoya, Japan in 1942. He studied painting with Satoshi Ogawa during his adolescence, working in his studio during the day and attending high school in the evening. He came to the United States in 1963 to continue those studies at Chouinard Institute of Art. An introduction to collector Fred Marer drew him to sculptural ceramics and he proceeded to study with Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, and Jerry Rothman in California during the time now defined as The Contemporary Ceramics Movement in America. The following decade, Kaneko taught at some of the nation’s leading art schools, including Scripps College, Rhode Island School of Design and Cranbrook Academy of Art.
His artwork appears in numerous international and national solo and group exhibitions annually, and is included in more than seventy museum collections. He has realized over thirty public art commissions in the United States and Japan and is the recipient of national, state and organization fellowships. Kaneko holds honorary doctorates from the University of Nebraska, the Massachusetts College of Art & Design and the Royal College of Art in London.
Based in Omaha since 1986 and in his current studio there since 1990, Kaneko has worked at several experimental studios as well including European Ceramic Work Center in The Netherlands, Otsuka Omi Ceramic Company in Japan, Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bullseye Glass in Portland, Oregon, Acadia Summer Arts Program in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Aguacate in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Independently he pursued industrial collaborations to realize larger-scale hand-built sculptures, the first in 1982-1983 at his Omaha Project, the second in 1992-1994 at his Fremont Project in California and in 2004-2007 at his Pittsburg Project in Kansas, the former with Omaha Brickworks and the latter two with Mission Clay Products.
Recent notable public art projects are the 2008 installation of three Pittsburg Project Heads on Park Avenue in Manhattan by invitation of the NYC Parks and Recreation Program, completion in 2009 of Rhythm at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, a composition of 19 large-scale ceramic and bronze sculptures, two 25’ and 15’ tile wall structures on a 22,600 square foot granite paver design, installation in 2008 of a 30’h x 25’w and a dozen 13’5”h x 1”3”w fused glass windows at Temple Har Shalom in Park City, Utah, and a project for the Bartle Hall/Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, an exterior concrete plaza design with 7 large-scale ceramic sculptures and a 27’7”h x 20’4”w interior painting on canvas, completed in 2007.
In 2012 Jun finalized his production design of Mozart’s Magic Flute for the San Francisco Opera which has traveled across the Unites States. From 2003-2006 Jun designed a new production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, which premiered at Opera Omaha in March of 2006 and continues to tours nationally. From 2006-2008 he designed a new production of Beethoven’s sole opera Fidelio that premiered in 2008 at the Opera Company Philadelphia.
In 2000 he and his wife Ree Kaneko formed a non-profit scholarly and presenting organization in Omaha Nebraska called KANEKO dedicated to the exploration of creativity in the arts, sciences and philosophy. For more information please visit www.thekaneko.org