Ex Libris: Denver Artists - Casey Kawaguchi

When you think of art in the west, typically you think some sort of buffalo painting or a coyote howling at the moon carved out of a piece of pine...not a samurai that is 3 stories tall.

However, there is nothing typical about the sort of art that Casey Kawaguchi makes and that is ultimately what makes it so special in the city of Denver. His stark and beautiful samurais and geishas are peppered throughout Denver like a mysterious novel unfolding. They climb buildings, pet cats, play violins, guard waterways and even shoot hoops on occasion, all while being some of the most unique street art in the metro area.

Born in Northern Utah but now living in Denver, Casey has become one of the most sought after muralists in town. Transforming restaurants, walls and alleyways into chapters in his story and leaving guardians among the streetlights. He recently did a mural for the MLB All-Star Game and is finishing some more for the Cherry Hills Sushi Company after moving into the Allegory Art space and blessing it with a mural...so we were lucky to capture a few moments with him to talk about his love of books and libraries. 

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Casey Kawaguchi on Art, Books, and Libraries

  1. What book as a kid, influenced your imagination to pick up a crayon and begin making art?

    I think artwise one of the most iconic books was Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, it has so many odd poems in it with even stranger drawings, that all focused on common childhood concerns. That book definitely sparked my imagination, as did Shel with his stories.

  2. What book are you currently reading that influences you in either a creative way or a professional way?

    I am currently reading Zen and the Art of Archery but honestly keep it on hand most of the time. It is the story of a German professor of philosophy learning the flow of Zen through Archery taught by a Kyudo master. It teaches you how to connect better with a craft and gives insight on perspectives to take in order to flow better with the Zen of the world.

  3. What do you think is the most important resource that Libraries provide to you as an artist?

    I think just being a resource is one of their best resources, being able to go into a Library and search through art books for free is invaluable to artists who often have funds tied up in materials when doing a project. I also really applaud the new "Maker Spaces" that DPL is offering to the public, thinking about all the inspiration I got from library books as a kid, I can only imagine what young artists might get from a 3D printer or learning the basics to code.

  4. What is your current/favorite/most-used branch of the Denver Public Library?

    The Central Branch downtown for sure, such an iconic building with so much history...and I have definitely taken advantage of their vast art book collection.

  5. If you were offered a gigantic wall on the outside of a Library, what would your paint to display what a library means to you?

    I think I would try and steer towards something that symbolized the written tradition in a visual manner. Perhaps a child rolling a scroll out on the floor and the longer the scroll got the more imagination poured out of it in the form of characters and themes from stories. I know there are a few walls on a few branches around town that I have kind of visualized this theme on, who knows, maybe in the future that will be another chapter in the story I am drawing for Denver...one spray can at a time.

Ex Libris: Denver Artists is a series featuring local street artists, focusing on their connection to books and the importance of libraries to the artistic community. Series concept and interview by Sean Ryerson.

Written by on August 20, 2021