Howard Ikemoto, a second generation, American Japanese, was born in Sacramento, California in 1939. In 1942, Howard (age 3) and his family were imprisoned at Tule Lake, a Japanese internment camp. In an interview with Betsy Miller Andersen in 1990, Ikemoto recalled, “In the camps, I was raised as a Japanese and I was taught in school as a Japanese would be taught. We learned to use the brush before we learned to use the pencil … Teachers talked about marks that had character, inner character … Gesture was very important — the gesture of the mark itself. It’s a full-on language.”
In 1946, after the war Howard learned to use his art as a way of communicating became a natural way of sharing his thoughts. After graduating from Sacramento High School, he went on to Sacramento City College where he earned an AA degree. From there, he transferred to San Jose State College where he earned a BA in Art and a MA in Art with a concentration in printmaking and painting.
Following the completion of his graduate work in 1966, Howard began teaching art at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. In 1968 he left Cabrillo College for two years and spent one of those years living in Japan. His motive was to learn about his family roots. While researching, he discovered the richness of the Japanese culture and the subtleties of it's aesthetics.
As a teacher, Ikemoto stayed as invisible as possible. In the 1990 interview with Andersen, he admitted that he was careful ”…not to over-teach. That’s a tendency that a lot of people have, they feel like they’re in charge so they … provide so much that the student doesn’t have a chance to reflect on things and put forth their own experiments. One of the most difficult things to do as a teacher is to listen.” His tenure at Cabrillo College was 34 years before he retired in 2000.
After retirement, Howard devoted his attention to his painting. Much of the work created in these last 16 years dealt with the evolution of landscapes through the process of painting. They are often abstract and sometime non-objective.
Howard has been fighting the effects of dementia for many years. In 2014, Howard moved to the Southern California to be closer to his daughters. Currently, he is living in a memory care facility.