World-renowned artist Ikki Matsumoto, a former Sanibel Island resident commissioned to illustrate The Joy of Cooking in 1972, died this week at the age of 78.
Matsumoto enjoyed a prolific career in the arts after moving to the United States from Tokyo, Japan, in 1955 to study at the John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis.
He worked as a designer and illustrator in advertising until relocating to Sanibel Island in 1975 to pursue a career as a painter and printmaker with native birds as his subjects.
In 1985, Matsumoto was chosen by first lady Nancy Reagan to be one of 50 artists to paint a White House Easter egg.
Later, he produced posters for the Island Reporter, a sister paper of The Breeze, and the Sanibel Rotary Club's Annual Craft Fair.
Matsumoto died at his home in Buckingham after moving back to Southwest Florida in 2010 from Ohio.
Amy Matsumoto, his daughter, said the 78-year-old artist had recently received treatment for cancer that had been diagnosed in August.
A memorial service is scheduled on Feb. 6 from 6-9 p.m. at the Lee County Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers.
"We are trying to keep our spirits up," said Amy Matsumoto. "We loved him."
Matsumoto will be cremated and his ashes scattered across important places from his life in the United States and Japan, including Sanibel Island.
The family asked that donations be sent to Hope Hospice or the Lee County Alliance for the Arts in honor of his memory.
Sherry Rohl, a Sanibel Island artist, credits Ikki and his wife Polly with making the Sanibel Island art scene into what it's today.
"To me, Ikki and Polly were so important to the arts scene on Sanibel and Captiva. They were really the ones who, from my perspective, made the arts scene on Sanibel what it is today," she said.