Art for all time: Masumi Hayashi, rest in peace

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 08/18/2006 - 14:34.


Manzanar Relocation Camp, Monument, 1995, panoramic photo collage, 48"x 80"


I am saddened and horrified to now recognize Masumi Hayashi as the finest photographer and one of the greatest artists Northeast Ohio has ever know, as she was murdered last night in her studio. All local arts lovers and artists certainly knew Masumi and her remarkable work, and of the great value she brought to CSU as a professor there. Her loss to Northeast Ohio as an arts community cannot be overstated.

I was admiring one of her photo collages in the lobby of Thompson Hine, just two days ago, and commented to our associate Phillip Williams that I hope Masumi doesn't consider my use of photo collages an intrusion on her technique, which is completely different but could be viewed as similar. I make photo collages as a photo-journalist, while Masumi pioneered the technique as a fine artist. Now, every time I paste together my collages I'll think of Masumi in fond remembrance.

For the story of her murder, see below and visit here. To see more of her wonderful art, visit the Cleveland State University website here.

Rest in peace, Masumi Hayashi - I apologize to you for the insanity that is Cleveland today. 


Homicide victim was CSU professor and renowned photographer


Masumi Hayashi, 60, had won a Cleveland Arts Prize, three Ohio Arts Council awards and a Fulbright fellowship.


One of the victims of last night's double homicide at an apartment building on Cleveland's West Side was a world-renowned photographer who had taught art at Cleveland State University for 24 years.

Masumi Hayashi, 60, has won a Cleveland Arts Prize, three Ohio Arts Council awards and a Fulbright fellowship. Her work has been shown in New York, Los Angeles, London and Tokyo.

The other victim, John Jackson, 51, was also an artist. He was a sculptor who lived in the building.

The shooting deaths followed a complaint about loud music.

Police believe Hayashi called her neighbor in the apartment building in the 1400 block of West 75th Street, 29-year-old Jacob Cifelli, to complain about his loud music, said Nancy Dominik, police spokeswoman.

A short time later, another resident came home to find a gun in the hallway and that Jackson had been shot.

The resident went to the third floor to call police but before getting to the phone found Hayashi. She and Jackson were both dead when police arrived, Dominik said.

Cifelli, who was on probation for an unrelated weapons offense, was arrested shortly after police arrived. He is suspected in the killings, police said.

According to police reports, he was also arrested on Nov. 29 after police found him carrying a sword with a 30-inch blade.

Asked why he was carrying the weapon, Cifelli said he thought it was cool, according to the report.

Cifelli pleaded no contest on Feb. 22 in Cleveland Municipal Court to failure to secure a dangerous ordinance. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and fined $750 plus court costs for the first-degree misdemeanor. But the jail time was suspended and he was put on six months probation, said Ronald Tabor, director of the court's criminal division.

Although $600 of his fine had been suspended, too, he failed to pay the remainder by the deadline of Aug. 15, Tabor said.

A warrant was issued for his arrest Thursday, hours before the shooting, Tabor said.

The year before the weapons charge, Cifelli, 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, was a victim of a robbery.

He told police on April 18, 2004, that he called a number he found in Scene magazine for a private "show" with a woman named Amy, according to police reports.

She invited him to the 7400 block of Clement. As he was leaving this place, he was approached by two men impersonating Cleveland police officers. They told him they were seizing his 1991 light blue Chevy S10 truck, according to police reports.

It was not immediately clear Friday if the truck was recovered or if the suspects were caught.

The two deaths bring the total number of murders since July 1 to eight in the First District on Cleveland's West Side. They are the third and fourth murders since Monday.

Police said that last night's deaths are not related to the previous murders. But the area has a history of street level crime and drug dealing, said Lt. Douglas Dvorak, acting commander of the First District.

For more information on crime statistics in the First District and throughout Cleveland go to:
By Gabriel Baird, %20gbaird [at] plaind [dot] com


MyMasumiOpeningPanLogoAuthentic.jpg38.82 KB


Masumi Hayashi was my colleague at CSU. She had attended school at Florida State University with my brother: they are both fine photographers. I saw her again after a long time last weekend at the Burning River Fest on Whiskey Island. She told me that a daughter she had give up for adoption 40 years ago had found her and that her family had expanded on the west coast and her life was filled with more love and family than she had ever known. She was bursting with the news and brimming with joy.

I was so saddened to hear of her beautiful life cut short.

I am really depressed by this

The more I think about this the sadder I get. I know several other artists in this building, know lots of others within a few blocks, and live about a mile away, and always have considered this a very dangerous area. But this killing goes beyond senseless violence to wanton evil. It makes me very depressed and I want to blame Cleveland, or the mother, or somebody. Why would this bum just shoot two good people in his mother's building? Was he abused as a child - sniffing glue - trying to be cool - influenced by video games? What made him so fucked up. I know people kill other people for no good resaon all the time, but I just can't get over this happening to Masumi and John... I want to understand what the fuck he was thinking!

Disrupt IT

No, I'm pissed off

The more I think about Masumi's murder, and NEO, the more pissed off I am at all the NEO arts-fraud bullshit-artists and politicians running around town. It makes me hate this place even more than ever. Yeah, murder happens all over the place, all the time... big deal.

I watched the local news tonight to see if there was anything to follow up on Masumi's murder and no. If she was a fucking quarterback for the Browns, or a local marine killed in Iraq, then 15 minutes of fame a day for a week... for one of our greatest people ever, blip... gone.

I googled Masumi tonight and the most insightful posting about her ever, besides her own portfolio site, was from Idaho - but no one knows in NEO... pass that tax for the arts we care so much about, knowing we don't... learn about NEO from Idaho...

Disrupt IT

No Joy in NEO either

I've been pissed off about the lack of real caring about local arts in NEO for a long time, and the passing of Masumi and John is just another tipping point for me. Gone and forgotten. What really pissed me off before this was taking artist formerly in residence in Cleveland Ed Mieczkowski to MOCA and no one there knew who he was or would bother to show him the time of day... they were in a BFD staff meeting and couldn't be disturbed. Shortly after that, with the sad passing of Joy Jacobs, a Cleveland raised artist of great accomplishment, I realized she wasn't and isn't celebrated at all in this community... it is as if she never existed. We in NEO do nothing to celebrate much less remember what is and has been great here and from here in the arts. Big disgrace... the CMA has a Joy Jacobs work and the best they can do is a blank screen... yeah, let's give them $300 million more! As for Masumi... CMA had a show of her work, and have three pages for her on their website, but nothing in their collection, even as she is in so many other collections around the world. Of course, on the astoundingly lame Cleveland Institute of Art website, no mention of murdered alumnus John Jackson may be found... you sure helped him in life... let's give you another $50 million. Hey, let's give $20 million a year in tax revenues in general to the incompetent, thoughtless, heartless NEO arts leadership... that would be cool. Be real.

Disrupt IT


Your comments are sadly so true.  We take artists for granted until it is too late.   I am so sad.

Masumi known and loved wherever I go

I was talking with the owner and director of Material Matters Gallery in Toronto about senseless violence in Toronto and mentioned to them about the deaths of Masumi Hayashi and John Jackson and both Dan and Lisa knew of Masumi's work and were shocked she was dead. This is a good example of how to connect local and global for NEO through art... not many other aspects of life in Cleveland could cross such borders.

Disrupt IT

masumi's and art's reach

An old colleague of mine and a student of Masumi's who resides in NYC now sent this after he heard and visited for the memorial. Alan documented most of Tom Mulready's Performance Art Festival and is making film in NYC these days. He returns home often to care for his aging mom. Like my email sent to Alan, my correspondence about the event reached far and wide to Florida where she was schooled and to the blog entries of he former students whose posts mentioned her influence.

dear friend,

In the middle of August, I received some horrible news about a friend of mine in Cleveland. Masumi Hayashi was an internationally known photographer, who specialized in large photocollages. Masumi, a Japanese-American, was born in the Gila River Relocation Camp in 1945.
She was a friend, a gentle person, and my photography teacher when I went to Cleveland State University from 1993-95.
She had been complaining for months about the son of the neighbor (they shared a long wall), who played his stereo system with tall speakers at very high volumes. On that day (and no one is exactly sure of the details), that 29-year old neighbor shot and killed her, then killed another artist (John Jackson) in the same building.

It was quite a shock. I was able to make time to drive into Cleveland from New York to attend her memorial and touch base with so many friends of mine (other artists).

She was important enough to me to want to share who she was and her work with my other friends. I created a page on my website for links to her work, as well as a 16 1/2 minute video I made about her in early 1995, before I moved to NYC. I hope you can take a moment to look and her work, watch the video, and if you wish, follow the links to more details about this senseless act of handgun violence.  

alan roth


This has been a strange summer with constant reminders of our own mortality. Please make an effort to be kind.  

Masumi Hayashi, Meditations : Remembering Injustice

We were down at MOCA yesterday, and saw this.  It was kinda spooky, what with her having been murdered and all, but it was definatelyworth the trip.


On view November 2nd, 2007 through December 30th, 2007

In collaboration with the Akron Art Museum, SPACES Gallery, and the Cleveland State University Art Gallery, MOCA Cleveland presents one of four exhibitions celebrating the artistic accomplishments of Cleveland photographer, Masumi Hayashi, who was tragically killed in the fall of 2006. Spanning the late fall and early winter of 2007-08, each exhibition focuses on key aspects of Hayashi’s oeuvre and development as an artist.

MOCA Cleveland’s exhibition, Remembering Injustice, features five of Hayashi’s signature large-scale photo collages from her series on Japanese-American internment camps, along with an audio presentation of her interviews with former Japanese-American internees. This series had particular resonance for Hayashi, who was born in the Gila River Relocation Camp in 1945. Although the internment camp sites represented by these photo collages appear relatively innocuous (having deteriorated beyond recognition or having been overtaken by nature), the titles and fragmented appearance evoke their tragic and incendiary historical connotations. In returning to and documenting these places, Hayashi used photography— a medium of recollection—to meditate on notions of collective memory, fear, injustice, and renewal. (with some small photos of her work)

In case you need them, MOCA Maps & Directions...