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hs41150.jpgbuy prints of select halfsquatch photographs at etsy or dawanda. (prints of all photographs are available upon request) day 41

Yoshi Oba was not a Japanese man. Moreover, Yoshi Oba was neither Japanese nor a man. Rather, she was a Dutch artist whose talents lay more in cultivating eccentricities and influential friends than in producing fourth (maybe fifth?) tier abstract paintings.

Corporate cool hunters frequently sought Yoshi out as a consultant and when she was profiled in style magazines it was often noted that she had her finger on the pulse of the Zeitgeist. She made money spotting talent and trends and had been at the centre of legal controversy more than once. Most notably, she was sued for copyright infringement by the svenagali of the Puerto Rican boy band, Menudo, for appropriating the group’s name for a year-long project which had a rotating roster of thirteen-year-old former street kids – all male — creating communal public art. One by one, as the boys turned fourteen, they were replaced by another thirteen-year-old and the dynamic of the art would change. Yoshi declared that she was prepared to go to court, to fight the suit all the way. This, however, turned out to be unnecessary when the Department of Social Services intervened and effectively shut down Yoshi’s Menudo.

Yoshi was a polarizing figure. Given her success and hipster clout, she was easy to disparage and snark at. Young artists from around the globe showed up at her gallery-cum-studio-cum-scenester hostel, portfolios open, hoping that the benefactress and ultrapatron would accept them onto her roster. But, as everyone knew, one had to be invited to be a guest at Yoshi Oba’s Art Motel.

And just as Yoshi Oba was not Japanese nor a man, Yoshi Oba’s Art Motel was not a motel at all. When and/or, the all-lowercase transsexual photographer Yoshi sent to pick Rebecca up at the airport pulled into a parking space in front of a non-descript brick office building on the edge of Vancouver’s Yaletown district, she was struck for a moment with panic and confusion.

“Is this it? I mean, are we here?”

and/or smiled. “Just wait ’til you get inside.”

Rebecca didn’t budge. She was sweating now. and/or could imagine a million thoughts – all of them unpleasant, most involving slavery, prostitution and rape — racing through her mind. “C’mon. Yoshi’s waiting for you.”

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                                                                                                                                                          ©2008 pamela klaffke