AMPLIFY Feature: Casey Kawaguchi

Issue No. 1: Intersections + Magic - August 2021 -------

Wrapping Ourselves in Our Heritage with Japanese | American street artist Casey Kawaguchi.


Casey Kawaguchi is a Japanese|American street artist whose large scale artworks are featured in public spaces throughout and beyond the Denver Metro Area. Recently named one of Denver’s best known muralists byDenver Arts & Venues, it is impossible to travel around RiNo without noticing Casey’s work. There’s even a KAWAGUCHI table at Park Burger’s RiNo location!


Casey’s aesthetic is both unique and immediately recognizable with its bold black, red and white color palette and the permeating imagery of an iconic face. Influenced by his Japanese heritage and by the strong women in his family—particularly his grandmother—the nameless character featured in most of his works is an ever-constant, yet evolving depiction of a Japanese samurai warrior woman who often appears alongside other Japanese aesthetic symbols and imagery.


Influenced by his Japanese heritage and by the strong women in his family—particularly his grandmother—the nameless character featured in most of his works is an ever-constant, yet evolving depiction of a Japanese samurai warrior woman who often appears alongside other Japanese aesthetic symbols and imagery.

Casey recently completed a live-painting session at the McNichols Civic Center gallery during Denver’s MLB All-Stars festivities in July 2021. His piece “Tets,” (inspired by a 1940s photo of Tets Furukawa playing baseball in the Japanese American Incarceration Center at Gila River, Arizona). Casey painted the piece for his dad, brother and great-grandfather, Chohachi “Gi-Gi” Fujita.

“The love of baseball has been passed down through generations and I’m grateful to have this opportunity to pay homage to Japanese American Baseball ...”

“The love of baseball has been passed down through generation and I’m grateful to have this opportunity to pay homage to Japanese American Baseball,” Casey explained. “Tets” is on display in the ALL-STAR ALLIANCE: DENVER’S CROSS CULTURAL MURALS exhibit at the McNichols Building in Downtown Denver through October 3, 2021.


In an artistic effort to #StopAsianHate, Casey joined with dozens of other Asian-identifying artists in an “All-American” AAPI Group Show in Los Angeles, co-curated by Julia Chon and Andy Song along with Ewkuks. Ewkuks explained, “Maxine Hong Kingston once said ‘In a time of destruction, create something.’ As the AAPI community is under attack, it is time to reevaluate the biases we have been conditioned to tie to being American and by extension how AAPI people have been ‘othered.’”


When AMPLIFY caught up to interview Casey for podcast and video episodes, he was in the midst of a collaboration painting walls at 28th and Blake in the RiNo Art District with IMAGINE. IMAGINE is a Nepalese artist whose work meshes the aesthetics of Sanskrit with influences from graffiti. In celebration of AAPI Heritage month, Casey’s iconic character is emboldened by IMAGINE’s colorful Sanskrit graffiti.

“The hands on this piece were referenced from our own, mine in prayer and hers hold the fabric. This piece represents a prayer for protection - wrapping ourselves in our heritage,”

(Pictured Above: IMAGINE + Kawaguchi, Picture taken by @dittlo_) "The hands on this piece were referenced from our own, mine in prayer and hers hold the fabric. This piece represents a prayer for protection - wrapping ourseves in our heritage,” Casey explains. Immersive artist Deep Space Drive-In also collaborated to activate the wall at night.


Casey is currently collaborating on artwork for Musa Bailey’s stop-motion samurai film ASSASSIN WITH SON. For more detail on this project, check out Musa Bailey’s profile and interview.


KAWAGUCHI x AL.LE.GO.RY is a new collaboration and their first piece as Artist in Residence at AL.LE.GO.RY Studios is now available online.


Article written by Margaret Ozaki-Graves