The Nation: Painting the Town

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The magnificent obsession of Sachio Yamashita is to turn the gray streets and buildings of Chicago into a splendiferous explosion of color. "The whole city is my canvas," declares the slight, goateed artist, who left Japan in 1968 to join the faculty of Prairie State College in Chicago Heights. So far, with the help of small contributions from the city, the U.S. Government and the Stone Foundation, Yamashita has painted the side of an old apartment building with a picture of waves surrounding Mount Fuji, hung a thick, 165-ft.-long, rainbow-hued rope from the roof of another structure, and rainbowed—rainbows are his thing —the grim walls of a sunken roadway.

"This monster city is dark, windy, cold," murmurs Yamashita breathlessly. "Art, color are the vitamins of the soul. I am 42 already. So much to do. Imagine! Striped buildings. Red streets. Sunrise painted on the Sears Tower, sunset on Hancock. A continuous wave of sea paintings along front of all buildings on Michigan Avenue. Rainbows on underside of el tracks. Then we invite all people of city to disappear the next weekend and I do the sidewalks."