Sunday, April 17, 2011

Los Angeles Artist Model ~ Miyoko

Years ago, when I first graduated from University, I got a job on campus, with the same department that I graduated from, Art! My official title was "Administrative Assistant" (aka secretary!), but the scope of duties I covered, far outweighed the title. One of the subcategory jobs I did was to manage the Life/Figure Model program for our Anatomy, Life Drawing & Painting classes. There were lots of interesting characters whom I had the pleasure to work with at that time and one of them in particular, I will always remember. Her name is Miyoko. I'm sad for my bad memory, as I cannot remember her last name and therefore cannot find much information about her on the internet.

When I had the honor of working with Miyoko, it was about 1999-2001. She lived in a resident hotel in Downtown LA, did not have her own phone (I had to call the hotel mgr to leave messages for her), she took the bus to all of the gigs she had at all of the colleges & universities around the greater LA area, wore stiletto healed, thigh high leather boots, a mink coat and a sexy little spandex mini skirt & tube top. All this with a shock of teased out salt & pepper hair atop her head. Miyoko was born sometime in the mid 1920s. I remember seeing her birthday on her employee info card and couldn't believe that this woman in front of me was 75 years old! Her English was broken and I think many who gazed upon her, were more frightened or unsure about talking to her. But I am glad that I did! She told me about when she first came to the United States, how she always worked as a Life Model in the universities in NYC, how she came to California because of the sunshine, about her pre & post War experience in Japan. She was a lively person who had a life full of adventure and creativity and is someone who has left a good memory with me all of these years later.

I recently thought I'd try to find some info about her on the internet. Surely for someone with a prolific Los Angeles art model career as she, there would be something about her on the world wide web! But alas, the last I can find about her was written in 2009. She seems to have had quite a long and sincere relationship with an LA artist named Robert Vargas. The only photo I can find of her is of him kneeling before her, paintbrush to paper, while she sits with her elbows on knees and chin cupped in her hands, mink coat, stiletto boots and that shock of hair that was her trademark. Apparently, she disappeared at some point in 2009. By that time, she would have been well into her mid 80s! I know everyone goes at some point or another, but Miyoko is one of those people who I wish I could always have the chance of running into on the street or in a drawing workshop or on the bus. I'm grateful to have had the chance to meet her and get to know a little bit about her when I did.

Please take a look here for more info on Robert Vargas and his muse, Miyoko:

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