Artist/Free Spirit J Muzacz Lives the Life, Publishes the Book

Last fall when Art Attack profiled Houstonian J Muzacz -- who was and still is teaching English in a remote Japanese town -- he told us about his in-progress art book, entitled JAPAN365. Muzacz said that his daily drawing project would capture everyday scenes in Japan and the collective output would be published in a bilingual book.

Sounded serious and maybe a bit ambitious. Then the stunning 416-page softcover arrived in the mail and we were pretty much floored.

"I learned that talent is only a small aspect of success in creative pursuit. Rather, perseverance, dedication and great effort are required to produce something of this magnitude. It was a full-time job," says Muzacz. "My dream of combining my two passions for traveling and making art is possible, and could grow to be a sustainable lifestyle in the future using a similar 365 formula with new faces in new places."

On July 21, Muzacz will be at War'Hous Visual Studios during "Ceremony: Art Show and Market, Concert and Summer 'Beach' Party." He'll be offering free posters, postcards and watermelon; original drawings for sale; and, of course, showing off his new art book. ("For just $20! They are $30 on," says Muzacz.)

Divided into 25 sections -- such as "Rice," "Graffiti" and "Talas [Typhoon No. 12]" -- the effort includes drawings of badass waterfalls, a 1,000-year-old cherry tree and some of the coolest temples you'll ever see in Kyoto. Alongside his straight-up artworks, Muzacz includes pretentious-less notes and observations in English and Japanese.

"The book became beautiful evidence of a truly international collaboration. I could not have done it without the ten or so friends [in Japan] who helped with translations and editing; my friend from childhood Christina in California designing and leading production; my friend Naoto's girlfriend Kiyomi brushing kanji scripts for chapter headings; and not to mention the tens or hundreds of Japanese people who inspired me with stories, interesting information and ideas of subjects to draw all last year."

Now that JAPAN365 is complete, is Muzacz's plate less full?

Nope. He says that he'll soon be cycling the length of Japan with Bicycle for Everyone's Earth in the name of sustainable living, environmental issues, eco-commuting and vegetarianism. "From Hokkaido to Okinawa, the ride will span around 4,000 kilometers over two to three months," says Muzacz.

"Ultimately, I would like to spend a few more months in Southeast Asia after that, especially Cambodia and Myanmar, volunteering with Help Exchange members, doing farm work or assorted odd jobs in exchange for room and board and food," explains Muzacz. "Then keep heading south (by bike and boat?) to Australia for a working holiday and a new and different setting for the next ball-pen drawing project (or maybe murals in Melbourne?), 365 Down Under."

Dude. Take us with.

J Muzacz will be signing copies of JAPAN365 at War'Hous Visual Studios, 4715 Main, during "Ceremony: Art Show and Market, Concert and Summer 'Beach' Party," scheduled for 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. on July 21. More information about the shindig can be found on Facebook.

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen