Inner artist finds green light in middle age

Federal Way resident Mizu Sugimura and artist Romson Regarde Bustillo. Sugimura will have an art project on display on Aug. 16 at the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle. - Photo by Mizu Sugimura
Federal Way resident Mizu Sugimura and artist Romson Regarde Bustillo. Sugimura will have an art project on display on Aug. 16 at the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle.
— image credit: Photo by Mizu Sugimura

“Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.” — Ovid

Ten years ago, I was the mother of a son in elementary school. I hoped to supplement what I considered to be a lack of rich arts programs with opportunities offered by a local artist at the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle.

The artist was a handsome Filipino-American man named Romson Regarde Bustillo. He hosted a make-and-take collage project utilizing family photos, magazine pictures and clear packing tape. In addition, he provided us with a short introduction to his own art that united themes of love, affection and family ties in his native land with daily life and work here in the United States.

If memory serves, that day I got more involved in the project than my son, who was there that afternoon just to have a good time. At some point during my endeavors, Bustillo came by looked over my shoulder and said in a brief encouraging way that, given what I had just accomplished, I ought to make a few more collages very soon.

As it turns out, Bustillo’s words were the green light that I had been waiting for since deciding not to major in art during my college years in the 1970s, instead opting for a major in something more practical like journalism. The safer and more conservative choice, while still appreciated, was one that I had become less positive with as the years between my university days grew more distant.

In my heart of hearts, I have always been drawn to the visual arts. But I had been unable to resolve some of my personal dilemmas over whether it was selfish to follow them if, as my mother articulated particularly well, it might take any valuable time away from your responsibilities and duties to, say, your family.

Recently, Bustillo (now based in New York City) returned to the new Wing Luke Asian Museum for yet another appearance. I very happily was able to be there and thank him for the first time for giving me that important boost — the little shot-in-the-arm that enabled me to cast my own hook into the pool of the artistic universe.

And so next month, Federal Way families are invited to help me celebrate catching my fish 10 years later at the upcoming Family Day at the Wing program. From 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, I appear at Wing Luke Asian Museum.

It’s a Cinderella-type tale I would not have been able to imagine in the days prior to attending Bustillo’s collage session at the museum — having grown up as the kind of person who saw the proverbial glass half-empty rather than half-full.

I would not want to deny anyone the pleasure I have received from being able to achieve something in the direction of my goal — to be able to better and more expressively communicate my inner belief since I was 5 years old. That I was an artist.

On the other hand, as a person who has now marked over a half-century of years on the planet, I’m much more delighted to have reached this turning point than I might have been ashamed to admit, being such an awfully late sort of bloomer before.

As a middle-aged woman, I have far less to complain about than young adults my son’s age and younger, who are coming of age in today’s world — many of whom are being held accountable for less-than-perfect choices in middle and high school years. They are being told by persons older and presumably much wiser that they are already in danger of permanently falling off the turnip truck, if they haven’t already.

However, of Ovid’s quote: The hope of a fish that will bite still remains. So my line will always be cast. My hook will always be baited. And I hope it is also the same with you and yours.

Federal Way resident Mizu Sugimura can be reached at mizu.s@comcast.net.

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