Arts : The fabulous Ks

Fresh out of the UTSA star-making machine, Mimi Kato and Jimmy Kuehnle charm Dallas and SA

It’s hard to miss them, the new power couple on the art scene these days. He’s loud, tall, and over-the-top. She’s cool, quiet, and sharp as a tack. Jimmy Kuehnle, that First-Friday bike maestro, and Mimi Kato, who singlehandedly stole Fotoseptiembre with her life-size prints at C-Art and i2i, are definitely two to watch as they emerge from UTSA’s graduate program. The Current sat down with them between their simultaneous openings at the Dallas Contemporary and CAM exhibitions at local venues for a little talk about meeting, making art, and old masters. You can read the full interview at

Mimi Kato and Jimmy Kuehnle: the SA art scene’s new power couple.

OK, so first of all, how did the two of you meet?

Jimmy Kuehnle: Actually, my friend and I, we made this pact that we would only hang out with foreign exchange students and art majors because they were more interesting. And there was this one exchange student named Tomo and he always seemed to be hanging out with all these girls. I mean he always had girls around him! And we wondered how that was possible. Lo and behold, one day we saw him sitting with two girls in the cafeteria `at Truman State University in Missouri` ...

Mimi Kato: It was me.

JK: Yeah, one was Mimi. But we were not interested in them, we just wanted to talk to Tomo. So, anyway, we met then, and then bumped into each other a bunch of other times.

And you were an art major then?

JK: Yes, I was an art major. She wasn’t an art major.

MK: No, I wasn’t. I majored in political science ... and I asked Jimmy, “Hey, I want to change my major to art. Do you think it’s a good idea?” He said, “Bad idea. Don’t do that.”

JK: We told everybody that, never to change your major to art, because if you have to ask ...

Mimi Kato:
Yokai zyukkei: scenery with monsters

11am-5pm Wed-Fri, 11am-6pm Sat, Noon-4pm Sun
Through August 26
Joan Grona Gallery
112 Blue Star

Jimmy Kuehnle:
Jimmy in Binary

Noon-5pm Sat
Through Jul 30
Jimmy kisses the sky:
7:30pm, Jul 12; reception 6-10pm
1426 W. Craig Pl.

Mimi, your work is changing a lot. I peeked through Joan Grona’s window where you’re installing and it looks beautiful. I want to know what you’re thinking about and where the imagery is coming from.

MK: I kind of recreated the old master Toba Sojo’s prints from — I think it’s the 11th Century. He made these prints of the Rabbit and the Fox and nobody knows the meaning. Their title, “Choju Giga,” means “animals imitating people,” and I kind of recreated those prints in the context of where we are right now in contemporary society, taking out the backgrounds that he had and putting in the new backgrounds that I draw on the computer. And I was interested in theater. I wanted to do a one-person play, so it’s all me being the actor.

And Jimmy, what’s this about “Kissing the Sky” at C-Art?

JK: “Kissing the Sky” is a publicity stunt.

Is it more art than publicity stunt?

JK: It’s way more art than publicity stunt. But I really, uh, beat myself down because `UTSA sculpture professor` Ken Little always gets on me when I describe my work as, “Oh, yeah, it’s just for fun.” I enjoy having fun but I really think a lot about it.

• • • • •

Jimmy went on to tell me exactly what the performance will be, and about his obsession with binary computer code that informs his video and drawings at C-Art this month, but you’ll have to go see him kiss the sky for yourself. I wouldn’t dream of spoiling it for you.


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