View all Events

Stewards of the Land: Fireside chat by Sadafumi Uchiyama, Chief Curator of Portland Japanese Garden

Feat. Dawn Uchiyama, Director of Environmental Services for the City of Portland

Moderated by Dr. Kendall Brown, Professor of Asian Art History at California State University Long Beach

Join us in our Living Room for a fireside chat with our Chief Curator, Sadafumi (Sada) Uchiyama, as he reflects on 15 years at Portland Japanese Garden. Whether it is maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the Garden for over a decade or creating and integrating the plan for the Cultural Crossing Expansion Project (which expanded the Garden from 5.5 to 12 acres), to helping to establish the North American Japanese Garden Association, to preserving the art of Japanese gardening through the International Japanese Garden Training Center, Sada has made an impact that transcends the physical garden. He embodies a true steward of the land, with a devotion to fostering something greater than himself that will outlast his lifetime.   

Sadafumi Uchiyama, Chief Curator of Portland Japanese Garden and Director of the International Japanese Garden Training Center with his wife Dawn Uchiyama, Director of Environmental Services, City of Portland. Photo by Nina Johnson.

Alongside Sada will be a special guest, Dawn Uchiyama, his wife and Director of Environmental Services for the City of Portland. Through her 30-year career in public service, Dawn has driven and implemented a wide variety of strategic watershed, stormwater system, and green infrastructure initiatives. Dawn worked with Sada creating the green infrastructure system at Portland Japanese Garden that helps channel water runoff from the top of the Garden to the city’s stormwater treatment system down the hill. 

As Sada will be looking to retire at the end of the year, don’t miss this rare opportunity to journey through the stories, wisdom, and legacy of a curator who has left an indelible mark on Portland Japanese Garden and beyond.


Speaker Bios

Sadafumi Uchiyama, Chief Curator and Director of the International Japanese Garden Training Center

Sadafumi (Sada) Uchiyama is Chief Curator of Portland Japanese Garden and Director of the International Japanese Garden Training Center. Before ascending to the role of Chief Curator, Uchiyama  served as Garden Curator of Portland Japanese Garden from 2008 to 2021, during which time he helped to create and integrate the Cultural Crossing Expansion Project. Uchiyama also served as a member on the Garden’s Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2007.

A fourth-generation Japanese gardener from southern Japan, Uchiyama is devoted to fostering relations between Japanese gardens in Japan and those outside of Japan. He has been involved in the development of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) and serves as a Charter Member of its board and programming board.

Dawn Uchiyama, Director of Environmental Services for the City of Portland

Dawn Uchiyama is the Director of the Bureau of Environmental Services at the City of Portland, where she has worked since 2001. During her 28-year career in public service, Dawn has led and implemented a variety of strategic green infrastructure and organizational development efforts with a focus on shared ownership in system-wide solutions and transformational change. 
 
Dawn is a licensed landscape architect in Oregon and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois-Chicago and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois-Urbana. With focus, compassion, and a sense of humor, she leads collaboratively and empowers others to achieve their highest purpose with emotional intelligence and integrity. In 2021, Dawn was awarded the Council of Foreign Relations Hitachi Fellowship and she spent 9 months in Setagaya studying mindful leadership and green climate recovery. 
 
Dawn is grateful to live in Portland (and occasionally Japan) with her family and friends. When she’s not strategizing on how to improve local government, she loves to study, travel, hike, cook, enjoy art and music and especially loves to practice yoga and meditation. 

Dr. Kendall Brown, Professor of Asian Art History at California State University Long BeachModerator

Kendall Brown is Professor of Asian Art History at California State University Long Beach. He holds a Ph.D. in Art History from Yale University and an MA from UC Berkeley. A former museum curator, he publishes actively in several areas of Japanese art and has organized exhibitions for several American museums, exploring topics from modern woodblock prints to Art Deco. He is a leading figure in the study of Japanese gardens in North America, having published the books, Japanesestyle Gardens of the Pacific West Coast (Rizzoli, 1999), Quiet Beauty: The Japanese Gardens of North America (Tuttle, 2012), Visionary Landscapes (Tuttle, 2016) and various essays on the social history of these gardens. After planning the International Conference on Japanese Gardens Outside Japan in 2009, he co-founded then served as President of the North American Japanese Garden Association.