How've you been? 
13 Forest Gallery, Arlington, MA

Julu 18 - September 18  2020

It’s been hard to find the right words to describe the experience of living through a global pandemic. When the shelter in place order began, we immediately experienced drastic changes in our work, social lives and basic routines. For our first new show since the quarantine began, we wanted to check in with our artists and see how they’ve been doing the past few months. How’ve you been? presents new work made from home by a group of our artists and a few artists new to 13FOREST. Throughout the quarantine art has been a great source of joy and purpose for the 13FOREST team - we hope you’ll be similarly inspired by the creativity our artists have shown working through the pandemic.

New work by Coco Berkman, Andrew Fish, Percy Fortini-Wright, Eben Haines, Elisa H. Hamilton, Patt Kelley, Kenji Nakayama, Wilhelm Neusser, Mary O’Malley, Yuko Oda, Chen Peng, Ellen Shattuck Pierce, Heather Pilchard, Mike Ryczek, Carlos Santiago

July 18 - September 25, 2020

Voices from Home - Kenji Nakayama (Youtube Video)

13 Forest Gallery, Arlington, MA

Septem,ber 28 - November 16,  2019

The paintings in Riff resulted from a long period of intensive commercial work, during which Nakayama sought fresh approaches to the laborious demands of sign painting. With accumulated insight, over the past year he returned to his artist studio to incorporate into abstract paintings the purely formal qualities of letters, not as bearers of meaning but as collections of line, shape and space.

Nakayama began each painting in this series by creating a background of broad, painterly brushstrokes. He then added letter forms, all of which he selected based on how they responded to the background composition and how well they fit together as visual sequences. The final, unbroken bands of letters do not read as lines of text; instead, they are reduced to basic compositional elements. Although Nakayama uses commercial lettering, he allows his brushstrokes to remain visible to reveal a hand-painting process he must conceal from his commercial work.

In addition to the paintings, Riff includes large collages of what began as Nakayama's hand-lettered practice sheets, which reveal the obsessive nature of his work as a sign painter. As assembled here, groupings of words encourage the viewer to read them as lists or sentences, but the incoherence of phrases they form undermines the process and shifts emphasis onto the letters’ integrity as aesthetic constructions.

The work in Riff began as a way for Nakayama to escape the all-consuming nature of his profession and utilize his considerable talent within an abstract, expressive context. Removed from the demands of clients and branding, this body of work is improvisational and intuitive while retaining a formal, graphic edge. As a meditative experiment, creating these paintings allowed the artist to challenge and examine his own artistic process, and to come to a deeper understanding of himself.

Gallery Exhibition Website

HUB WEEK Boston 2018 

Completed in 2018

A collaboration with a bio-tech company Veritas Genetics to create "The Letters of Life". This installation features an artistic representation of Veritas co-founder George Church's actual DNA.

VIDEO Interview

Work In Progress 
La Kagu, Tokyo 

April 25 - June 4,  2018

This collection of work represents Nakayama's daily efforts improve his design eye, skills for commercial lettering and sign painting, while continuing to study and explore letterforms.

The group of works on paper represent Nakayama's practice workflow, starting with how he likes to warm up in his studio, with repeated, consistent vertical brush strokes that fill up a piece of paper. The works then move into the repeated practice of single stroke letters and figures(numerals), before he works on lettering studies, explorations, and layout studies.  Some of the wall of paper pieces were actually for commercial purposes, as well as lettering that were to be digitally re-produced.

日本での初個展 WORK IN PROGRESS では僕がこれまでに行ってきた筆によるアルファベット文字の練習から試作、研究、また実際に仕事として書いた文字やポスター、そしてアート寄りな実験的アプローチから出来上がった作品、練習紙を使ったコラージュ作品などを一挙公開しています。

Related Link

Pat Falco, Kenji Nakayama

 University Hall Gallery at UMass Boston

November 10, 2017 - January 5, 2018

About this exhibition:
was taking form as an evolving installation, bringing elements from the artists’ studio into the gallery to create a site for active artistic production and presentation.  Modeled after their shared space, they will set up work stations to make art, adding to the display throughout the exhibition.  Students of the UMass Boston Art Department, as well as visiting artists, were invited to participate in making and displaying new work in the gallery.  Current  was organized in collaboration with the artists, Kate Ostreicher, and University Hall Gallery Curator Sam Toabe.

Exhibition Link

All That Glitter Is Not Gold 

Julia Hechtman, Kenji Nakayama, Kathleen O'Hara, Ben Sloat


January 28 - March 25, 2017

"The future is uncertain but the end is always near." - Jim Morrison

The word "uncertain" was painted in Patriotic colors, and the way it's painted makes it hard to read.  The letters were so large that they had to be stacked up in order to fit them in the size of the window...

I could think of words like "Lousy", "hard to read", "unfitting", "disoriented" for this piece which inspired by the current U.S. politics. 

Exhibition Link

San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design (SFMCD)

April 9 – August 7, 2016

-Sign Language ( Collaged panels on the wall ) , Oil paint on 1sqft MDO (117pcs). (2015-2016)
-Foundation blocks (3D installation) , a collaboration with my fellow artist Damion Silver.  (2015-2016)

Constructed Communication

 is a combination of talk and technique. Nakayama, Sinbondit and Venom

re-appropriate traditional craft techniques with their chosen materials, novel approaches, and contemporary dialogues. The work in this exhibition provides a counter-note to the fast-fabrication alternatives that sometimes clutter the modern world. Rather than standing in opposition, they provide alternate points of view that open new portals of understanding and use.

Co-curators: JoAnn Edwards and Ariel Zaccheo

Exhibition design: Ted Cohen

This exhibition is supported in part by The Clay and Glass Arts Foundation


Exhibition Link

Converse  Made by you :
Caleb Neelon, Dillon Buss, Kenji Nakayama

Orchard Skate Shop, Upstair Gallery

May 30 – June 4 , 2015

“Made by you” is a global celebration highlighting Converse Chuck Taylor All Star, the only sneaker defined by those who wear them. Converse has curated a collection of Chuck Taylor All Star portraits, showcasing endless diversity and self-expression of individuals past and present who choose to wear Chuck Taylor All Star – from musicians to artists, skaters to fashionistas, the known to the unknown. Their portraits offer a contemporary lens into the distinctly unique worlds they inhabit.


--A Performative Drawing Project--

Montserrat College of Art

January 12 – March 28 , 2015

About SEVEN:
Montserrat Gallery, highlighting the performative aspects of drawing and the individual nature of each artist’s process. The gallery will operate as an open studio, effectively putting the creative process on display. SEVEN challenges the traditional definition of ‘drawing’, inviting artists to mark make in a variety of disciplines and considering the final drawings residue of an artistic performance.


Kenji Nakayama and Dana Woulfe
Anderson Gallery
October 6 - November 6  2014
Artist Residency in Gallery October 6 - 9/2014

The two Boston artists; Kenji Nakayama and  Dana Woulfe ,  will create a collaborative exhibition titled Under Creation . This collaboration involves the creation of a mural which incorporates the two different styles of these artists. Kenji Nakayama  is known for his free flowing and elegant linear qualities; while Dana Woulfe is known for his colorful and dynamic painting style. Each of these traits will be blended into a collaborative mural along the main wall of the gallery. Supporting paintings done on-site will demonstrate the individual creative vision of each artist. During the residency students, faculty and the community are encouraged to come and watch this performance mural event.

Exhibition Link 

Fourth Wall Project, Boston 

April 14 – May 18 , 2014

The exhibition centers around forty­nine abstract compositions on paper that showcase the art of pinstriping­­a technique of decorative painting that Nakayama has dedicated the last decade to mastering. Learning pinstriping was the impetus for Nakayama’s move to the US from Japan, and while his past pinstriping pieces have adorned text on signs, antique saws, motorcycles, and other practical surfaces, “Études” strips context and subject away in favor of a formalist exploration.
The exhibition’s title refers to the classical music composition format that is characteristically brief, albeit technically challenging, and provides a vehicle for virtuosity. This body of work was created over the last seven months, and for each piece, Nakayama worked within specific parameters: black paper, acrylic work, and a white enamel finish that serves as a compositional “anchor” of sorts­­a black and white horizontal compass for line and color to live within.
The series begins with several rosettes created in summer and fall of 2013, which conjures stained glass, mandalas, and hubcaps. Nakayama’s work transitions organically from circular works to more calligraphic compositions that meander from central points, or­­as with his later works, are repetitive and script­like. Études 31­38 take inspiration from Edo­era signage, which is defined by thick and heavy brushstrokes.
The number of works created in this series­­forty­nine­­refers to the period of mourning that is observed within Zen Buddhist traditions. Within this ritual, it is believed that the spirit of the deceased will transition into the next realm after a forty­nine day period; the forty­ninth day is celebrated by family and friends with a ceremony.
The exhibition features other works which are created on repurposed objects and heavy panels. A discarded crucifix is given a gold, red, and black pinstriping treatment that evokes Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox motifs, while other surfaces play host to totemic compositions that reference Pacific Northwest and Ainu art. As with the Études series, these idiosyncratic works are defined by symmetry and balance of line and color.

Exhibition Catalogue Website

This show was curated by Kristen Wawruck
co-organized by Kristen Wawruck & Oliver Mak.
sponsored by Converse Inc

Kenji Nakayama 
 Woodward Gallery, NYC

May 5 – July 7 , 2012