Erik Sanner Home Visual Other About

The 88 Sacred Places of Shikoku
The 29 Stations of the Yamanote Line
"The Model Toilet at Anrakuji" (#6)
"Still Life with Grapefruit and Tomato at Konomineji" (#27)
"The Vending Machine at Kiyotakiji" (#35) "At Ryukoji" (#41)

All paintings above:
Oil on canvas
16" x 13" (if vertical) or 13" x 16" (if horizontal)

The 88 Sacred Places of Shikoku
Klein Blue Gallery
Tokyo, Japan
July-September 1999

In mid-1999 I was doing so much art that it was getting difficult to hold down a job; working part time teaching private English lessons out of my apartment, I cancelled frequently and was clearly distracted at times. I had pretty much decided to leave Japan soon, which made embarking on the Shikoku pilgrimage easier. I sent canvasses and sketchbooks to every fourth temple (figuring my backpack couldn't really hold more than three at a time), with a letter asking them to please hold onto them for me until I showed up.

At each temple I would first complete a sketchbook (representational and/or abstract drawings) of seventeen pages and then make an oil painting. After that I would approach people and ask them if they would please let the painting dry somewhere safe for two weeks, and then stick it into the bubble-wrap pre-posted envelope I would provide them with.

I was unable to complete the pilgrimage despite the incredible kindness of strangers interested in my work and willing to help. I accepted rides whenever they were offered, and slept in a tent unless i was offered lodging, which also happened. I found it very difficult to complete even one sketchbook and painting per day, and eventually found myself running out of time and money.

There were more typhoons than usual that year. At one point it rained on sixteen consecutive days. There is not nearly as much readily-available food in the mountains of Shikoku as the streets of Tokyo; I became intimate with the flavors of "Calorie-Mate" biscuits and other vending machine delights. I had hurt my knee in Tokyo shortly before leaving, and the frequent uphill treks were more arduous than I had anticipated.

I completed fifty sketchbooks and paintings, all of which made it to gallery in Tokyo, where they were rotated at least weekly by the director or curator. All fifty paintings were hung simultaneously for the closing reception.

It is firmly entrenched in my head that at some point I will go to all 88 temples. If I were going today, I think I would take a laptop computer and video camera, lots of batteries, and lots of plastic bags.