Campaign Under Way to Name Highway After Chiura Obata

Looking west to Tioga Pass from Highway 395 in Lee Vining.

SACRAMENTO — An effort is under way to name a highway in California after artist Chiura Obata (1885-1975).

Introduced by Assemblymember Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals) on July 2, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 112 proposes a “Chiura Obata Great Nature Memorial Highway” on Highway 120, located on the Eastern California state entrance of Yosemite National Park. The highway would be a five-mile portion of Tioga Road.

Any portion of Highway 120 within Yosemite National Park cannot be named by the state because it is federal land.

Bigelow’s 5th Assembly District includes Mono County and Yosemite.

Obata was an Issei artist who taught at UC Berkeley before and after World War II. He is well-known for his paintings of nature, particularly the splendor of Yosemite, as well as his incarceration in Topaz, Utah with other Japanese Americans during the war.

Robert Hanna, a descendant of conservationist John Muir, instigated the proposal to honor Obata’s art.