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Joel KARHU (b. 1964)

Kyoto born and bred, lanky Joel Karhu is the youngest son of legendary Finnish-American artist Clifton Karhu (1927-2007). As a teenager, Joel apprenticed in his father’s art studio and assisted with the printing of many of his father’s masterful woodblocks. Despite wanting to be an artist from a young age, Joel determined that his creations were overly influenced by his father’s and, for many years, made his living away from his beloved Kyoto, pursuing different careers, before deciding just a few years ago that he needed to create the works that he was seeing in his mind’s eye.

While he remains as entranced with Kyoto as his father was, and has certainly inherited his talent for putting down on paper the architectural beauty of that captivating city, Joel’s vivid colors and jewel tones are certainly his own. He created six print editions in 2019 (to many hurrahs from our gallery) and we are all looking forward to what he will come up with next.


I have known Joel since we were children –- not only did we attend the same school, but my family would often visit his father’s studio --  so it felt like a homecoming when my sister had the chance to visit him in Kyoto last fall. During that short time, accompanied by our father, they had lunch at the same tempura restaurant his father would take us to, and also went to visit his mother, who is like our family’s dear aunt -- all in all a nice catch up visit. My family enjoyed their time with him so much that they persuaded him to return to Tokyo with them, which he did. During that leg of the trip, they got to meet one of his daughters, and he got to meet my nephew.


I am sorry that I was unable to be there as it felt very fitting that three generations should come together since our families have been linked through art and friendship for over 50 years. 

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