At a ceremony at the Japan Society of Fairfield County on Sunday, January 10, 2010, Greenwich Historical Society board chair Susan G. Larkin was presented with the Japan Society’s first Uezumi Award, which was created to recognize those who work to encourage a mutual exchange of culture between Japan and the United States. She was recognized for her study and promotion of the work of Japanese artist Genjiro Yeto, who was a valued member of the Cos Cob art colony between 1895 and about 1902.
Noboru Uezumi, in whose honor the award was established, was a successful Japanese television executive who became a passionate educator when he came to the United States in 1992. In 1997, he moved to Greenwich where he quickly became active in the community and was named “Volunteer of the Year” by the Greenwich Historical Society in 1998. He was a skilled storyteller and artist and used his talents to develop local history programs for the Greenwich Japanese School as well as Japanese-language versions of brochures for local historic sites, including the Bush-Holley House in Cos Cob and Putnam Cottage in Greenwich. He started the Greenwich Library Christmas tree origami display and also taught Japanese language and arts to local children and adults.
His talents included producing and illustrating Kamishibai presentations (a pre-television technology targeted at young children), one of which was the story of Genjiro Yeto, a frequent visitor to the Holley boardinghouse in Cob Cob, where he studied under John H. Twachtman and mingled with other artists including Childe Hassam and Elmer MacRae. Photographs taken in the late 1890s show Yeto surrounded by kimono-clad American art students in Cos Cob.
Ms. Larkin has been Greenwich Historical Society chairman since September of 2009. She is an independent art historian and curator who has published and lectured widely, holds a Ph. D. in art history and is an expert on American Impressionism. She has taught graduate-level courses on Japanism. Her studies of Yeto’s art and life became the basis for a friendship and collaboration with Noboru Uezumi. They worked together to facilitate a documentary about Yeto that was broadcast in Japan.
“I am deeply honored to receive the first Uezumi award,” Ms. Larkin said. “Noboru’s enthusiasm and energy were contagious. He truly made a difference in the community, forging bonds between newly arrived Japanese residents and long-established organizations. Thanks to programs he initiated or inspired, hundreds of local children and adults have a deeper appreciation of the culture of Japan.”