Born in Osaka, Japan, in 1941, Mizue Sawano had immersed herself in painting starting around 5 years old. From the ages of 8 to 17 she lived in a beach town called Oiso, a Southwest suburb of Tokyo. There she used to walk on the dunes and small hills and was fascinated with the everchanging colors of the sea by the sunlight and the shades of green of wild grasses and tree leaves as they moved by the winds. She always carried oil painting supplies with her during her walk and painted the beauty of nature revealing in front of her eyes.
In 1966, while she was at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music Graduate Studies, she attended École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris for two years with a scholarship from the French Government. At the onset of the May 1968 civil unrest in Paris, she moved to New York to join The Art Students League of New York where she was awarded the Lifetime Membership after just one year.
In 1975, Sawano had the first opportunity to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden where she felt deep attachment. Since then, she commuted to the garden with small canvases every day be it rain or shine to do studies. There she depicted
blooming water lilies in the pond and cherry blossoms across the garden in spring. She then created larger scale paintings based on the studies, representing her unique world at her studio.
In 1976, her large work titled “Water Lilies” (10 x 27 feet) was selected by stage designer Oliver Smith at the Waldorf Astoria Backdrop Competition, which led her to such large scale solo exhibitions as the one at Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery in 1991 and 2016; and at National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, in 1998.
From 2000 to 2018, she has been regularly invited to Moussem Culturel International d’Assilah in Asilah, Morocco, for solo exhibitions as well as mural works.
She has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions in the U.S. as well as in Japan and has participated in many group exhibits receiving many awards. Her works are in the collections of many prestigious art institutions and corporations. She has also had a solo exhibition every 4 years at the Takashimaya Art Gallery in Tokyo since 1992. Her art life, spanning half a century, is showing no signs of slowing.