Artist Chiura Obata (1885-1975) remains well-known for his sumi-e (traditional Japanese ink painting) works of animals and nature, including Yosemite National Park and its surroundings.

During World War II, however, his art reflected not the freedom of nature, but the realities of life among Japanese Americans imprisoned at the federal internment camp at Topaz, Utah. It was there that Obata continued to create paintings and sketches depicting life in the camp, as well as holding art classes for fellow prisoners.

Executive Order 9066, ordering the forced removal of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast, was signed by President Franklin Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942. That date is now a day of remembrance for Japanese Americans. The Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park visitors center, 1414 Harbour Way South in Richmond, will mark the remembrance with a free talk and presentation by Kimi Kodani Hill, Obata's granddaughter, at 3 p.m. Feb. 22.

Hill, author of the 2000 book "Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata's Art of the Internment," will show her grandfather's artwork, and discuss his experiences in the camp, as well as his career teaching art at UC Berkeley from 1932 to 1955. Works by Obata are included in the collections at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as well as Yosemite National Park.


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For more details and directions to the Visitor Education Center, call 510-232-5050, ext. 0 or visit www.nps.gov/rori/planyourvisit/directions.htm. Admission to the center is free.

TRICKLE DOWN: If you ever pass by the 600 block of Colusa Avenue in El Cerrito, you may have noticed that there is always water visible on the uphill side of the street and in the gutter. It has been that way for months, even in the summer. One anonymous passer-by jumped to the obvious conclusion that residents were overwatering their yards and left a note on the doors of homes on the block chiding them for being wasteful during a drought.

Except that neighbors there weren't overwatering.

The cause was a leak, and at first the focus was put on EBMUD, which inspected its pipes and determined they were intact. In the meantime, the continued dampness was accelerating damage to the road surface.

The city finally determined that "this area does contain a historical underground spring or groundwater, which may be the cause of the water seepage" on the block of Colusa between Eureka Avenue and Errol Drive, according to a notice from interim Public Works Director Yvette Ortiz.

El Cerrito was already planning a pavement repair project on Colusa, that will now be preceded by a project that will install a subdrain to divert the leak to the storm drain system, with work to done this spring. (It's too bad the water couldn't be directed to the athletic fields at nearby El Cerrito High.)

Road repair is expected to be completed this summer.

TAX PREP HELP: The Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union in Berkeley is again offering free tax preparation services to families with an annual household income of less than $50,000.

The assistance has been offered annually since 2009, when the credit union became a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site.

The program pairs qualifying households with volunteer certified tax preparers from the credit union and UC Berkeley.

"For the past five years the credit union and the VITA program has provided tax preparation to individuals including students, independent business owners, young families and seniors," said Cooperative Center FCU President and CEO Fadhila Holman. "We are proud to be able to provide this much-needed service to so many in our community."

The service has helped more than 500 households with preparation and electronic filing since its inception and credit union membership is not required.

To make an appointment contact VITA Site Coordinator Gina O'Leary at goleary@coopfcu.org or 510-295-1657.

WEST COUNTY NOTES: Jeremy Cohen and his Violin Jazz Quartet perform at a Point Richmond Jazz concert at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at Point Richmond United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St.

Cohen, an accomplished Bay Area-based violinist, will be accompanied by Larry Dunlap, piano; Dix Bruce, Guitar, and Jim Kerwin, bass.

Admission is $15 advance or $20 at the door. The concert series will continue on the fourth Friday of each month through May.

  • The annual crab feed hosted by the El Cerrito Police Employees Association, featuring all-you-can-eat crab salad, pasta and bread, is set for 6 to 10 p.m. March 21 at the Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane.

    The event benefits the association's K9 fund and tickets are $45 adults, $25 age 12 and under. Tickets can be reserved by sending an email to ecpeacrabfeed@yahoo.com.

    Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway. Stay up-to-date on West Contra Costa news at IBABuzz.com/westcounty.