Zen Saito (AKA Yoshiyuki Saito) grew up in a small town in Japan with a family that influenced his creativity. Early on he dreamed of being a designer. By high school, he was studying drawing and sculpture in an intense summer art course.
By 18 years old, he’d moved on to study design in Tokyo. His designs were often too innovative and his professors hinted that it would be more interesting to become an artist. When he entered a painting competition in Tokyo, he experienced a dramatic embarrassment. His work was criticized as “so like some of his favorite artists”. Since then, he initiated the search to find his own “Original styles”. To develop “Original styles” he realized his life needed unique experiences and stimulation. He aimed to go on a big adventure overseas, so at 24-years-old, he made an expedition to NYC.
Manhattan was not at the top of his list, but it was one of the biggest cities with the highest concentration of cultures thriving together creatively. Studying at Art Student League in New York, he worked on many series of artwork while living there: ‘Tomorrow may not come’, ‘Signet on Freckles’, ‘Primitive’, ‘Reprimitive’, and the ‘Lamp series.’ He worked as an artist assistant for a metal sculptor, Helen Blundt for many years. He exhibited his work within group shows, as well as presenting his solo exhibits in Brooklyn and in New York City.
In 2007 he started helping his friend with his construction projects in Massachusetts, eventually becoming a lead carpenter for high-performance home building. Shortly before leaving New York, he met with the most influential person for his art and his life, Yana Filkovsky. They moved to the Boston, MA area together and married, living with their famous cat “Orange”. They had always inspired each other and spent the following years working together for their art.
Yana passed away in 2015. He worked on Yana’s memorial art show at Gallery Sitka with Tamar Russell Brown for Yana’s one year anniversary. Also, he accompanied Yana’s Art Museum in Bonaire which Yana’s parents built in loving memory of her and her art. He continues to work on presentations for Yana’s artwork and still, he pursues his “Original style” to this day.
Currently, he is working on his new series ‘Alter Conviction’ between his construction day job…