George Suyeoka

Document Type


Publication Date



2011 interview with artist George Suyeoka by Bridget Pasapane


Bio: Born in 1926 in Hawaii, George Suyeoko was raised in Hawaii and graduated from McKinley High School. He served in the U.S. Military Intelligence Service during WWII in Japan. In 1953, he graduated fro the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been a fine art and commercial artist in Chicago ever since. He was married to the late Irene Suyeoka, a weaver, has two children, and lives in Evanston, IL.

Suyeoko’s exhibitions include: Chicago International New Art Forms Exposition; Folkworks Gallery of Evanston; Honolulu Academy of Fine Art Extension; Honolulu Gallery; Best pf show at SAN show at Illinois Sate Center; Columbia College in Chicago; One man show at Renaissance Court in Chicago Cultural Center; Beverly Art Center; K&L Gallery in Highland Park; Best of Show, Anti-Cruelty Society. He has exhibited at: Old Orchard, Old Town, Oak Park, and 57th Street At Fairs; Artists Guild of Chicago; American Federation of Art; National College of Education; Art Institute of Chicago Sales and Rental Gallery; Evanston Art Center; Illinois Horowitch Galleries; and the Nina Owen Sculpture Gallery.

He has done illustrations and design work for World Book, Childcraft, Scott Foresman, Rotarian, Abbot Laboratories, Container Corporation of America, Encyclopedia Britannica, Playboy, Map for National Parks, and numerous advertising agencies in Chicago.

According to his artist statement, “In my fine art, my primary medium is wood and the themes usually are: politically incorrect, tongue in cheek; stylized animal forms; but I also have three bronze drinking fountains, one with Illinois animals[1], another topped with two elephants[2], and a 3rd with a pride of lions[3], in the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL. Also a Bronze cat on a mushroom in a neighbors yard and a bronze rabbit for a south side doctor.”

He has illustrated four Japanese folk art books and given slide shows and story telling sessions at the Evanston Art center; Chiaravalle Montessori School in Evanston; Roosevelt School in Berwyn; Congregational Church in Wilmette; Noelani School in Honolulu, HI; Barnes and Nobel in Evanston; City Day School, Chicago; Tanpopo [at the Japanese American Service Center] in Chicago; Buddhist Temple Children’s class in Kona, HI; Maryknoll in Honolulu, HI.

He is currently working in sculpture and occasionally involved in designing children’s toys and games and writing children’s book stories.

[1] “The Fountain for the Young at Heart” located between the bear and wolf habitats along the outdoor visitor path of Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo, this tri-cornered children’s drinking fountain has a variety of near-life-sized small animal figures arranged fancifully. Donated by Betty Koenig Greenwald and Sally Koenig, it was originally commissioned for the zoo’s first Children’s Zoo (1964-2004) and relocated to its new home in 2006. (Lincoln Park Zoo Sculpture Map and Tour guide)

[2] “Elephant Drinking Fountain” was unveiled in 1992 at the Lincoln Park Zoo. It is located north of Regenstein African Journey near the Conservatory Gate. This fountain is mounted on a bronze podium and features an adult female and infant elephant drinking from a shallow pool that receives water from a drinking spout. Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Gelbin. (Lincoln Park Zoo Sculpture Map and Tour guide)

[3] “Lion Fountain” Located west of the Kovler Lion House along the public path, this piece features a lion pride drinking from a shallow pool that receives water from a drinking spout. Donated by Frank and Mary Vanker, it was unveiled in 2006. (Lincoln Park Zoo Sculpture Map and Tour guide)