Contact: Steve Stagnaro
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August 29, 2010

Watsonville, CA - Young artist Ken Muramoto got his idea for this year's Santa Cruz County Fair poster, a group of cows sitting down at a table to eat apple pie, from his art teacher.  "She said to do something that was unrealistic," Muramoto said. "So I thought, what do cows, unlike humans, not do?"

A Watsonville resident, Muramoto is entering his junior year at Aptos High School. His family moved from Japan to Santa Cruz County in 1996 when he was 2 years old. In 2004, they moved to Watsonville.  When Ken was 3, his parents discovered he was autistic.  His father, Joji Muramoto, said they found out about Ken's fascination with art even earlier.  "At first, he would just doodle,” Muramoto said.  “He drew lines, line after line. Later, we found out he was trying to draw a perfect line.  He practiced drawing lines all the time.”

Today, all of Ken's work is done in freehand. He doesn't use rulers for his straight lines and draws pictures of landscapes from memory.  His winning entry to the fair was no fluke; he also recently won an art contest sponsored by the local chapter of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

His parents have made certain that art is part of his education.  Upon arriving in Watsonville, he attended Watsonville Charter School of the Arts.  He has taken private art lessons from local art instructor Susana Terrell since he was 5.  "He's such a great student," Terrell said. "He's a really exciting artist to work with. He's so imaginative and so focused. He's so involved in the images he's creating that you can watch him get delighted by what unfolds on the page."

Terrell said she was not surprised his entry won, but said she was delighted. "It's an amazing poster," she said. "He refined it and refined it with tiny details. I'm glad it was noticed and appreciated by the committee.  "Ken now attends Aptos High and will be a junior when school starts. "It's pretty nice," Ken said of Aptos High.  "I made a lot of new friends there and they have good art classes there."

The Muramoto family attends the Santa Cruz County Fair every year. Ken said his favorite part is the model train exhibit.  "He loves trains," said Ken's mother, Hommin Muramoto.  "He draws trains, collects model trains, and watches Westerns with trains in them."  "I like the steam engines," Ken said. "The way they sound, all the steam; they are dynamic."  The fair poster, like most of Ken's work, was done in colored pencil.  He said it took him many weeks to finish, working on it after school and on weekends.  Ken said he plans to attend Cabrillo College after he graduates and will continue taking art classes.

"I've been doing this as long as I can remember," Ken said.

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