Monday, November 24, 2008

Eric Johnsen: Master Builder

I'm very proud of my brother Eric. A master builder to me is someone who doesn't necessarily have a degree in architecture, yet brings an enormous amount of creativity and beauty to the structures he builds, whether they be a small bathing shed or a magnificent mansion. Inspired by the house we grew up in above Honolulu in Nu'uanu Valley, a modernist 50's style house designed by Alfred Preis and constructed by the finest Japanese craftsmen, Eric creates the most beautiful structures and furnishes them with exquisite cabinetry.

The latest of these masterpieces to be finished is a house for Gwen and Ray Chaiken, on a knoll overlooking Hawaiian Homesteads pastureland near Waimea, with a grand view of Mauna Kea. Eric invited me to fill the empty walls with my artwork in time for the open-house-blessing party they threw yesterday. I wouldn't go to this effort for just anybody but since it was Eric I brought up 32 paintings and prints and managed to find wallspace for every piece, although none of what I brought were large enough for some of the big walls.

Installation was amusing and painful as both Eric and I had matching rotater-cuff shoulder injuries on opposite sides, our working arms (he's left-handed). Together we struggled as a complete human being and managed to get everything up.

I wish I'd taken more photos of the building itself, and actually my photography petered out after one or two rooms since it seemed too dark. But here are a few shots; maybe I'll take more later in the week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One that Got Away

I have quite a few paintings hung around Kalani retreat center, down the road where I lived in the early 90's. Most of them are for sale, while some are just permanent decorations which I traded for rent back in the day. A very small few, in fact just one or two, are not for sale, just there on a long term loan. Anyway, they sold one of those by mistake the other day. Rather than creating any bad energy I am just going along with it, but I am a bit sad. I like this painting a lot because it shows Richard Koob and Roger Montoya painting on the coast near Opihikao. Roger, my wonderful painter friend from New Mexico, actually helped me on the painting, turning it from my sketchy style into something quite bold and wonderful. I love the kind of Katzenjammer Kids cartooniness of it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Our friends from Maui and Oahu (and elsewhere??) joined us for several days of painting around Hilo and Puna. I was on Oahu until Wednesday so I missed most of it but I did get to paint with the group in Keaukaha, which is an always fascinating land-and-seascape of lagoons, rocks, and the distant slopes of Mauna Kea.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Visit with Jan and Vi Medusky

I was in Honolulu last week to celebrate Hallowe'en at the Cirque du Soleil with a posse of friends, but also to hobnob with gallery owners and designers and gently remind folks that I exist and am doing good artworks for their projects.

One of the highlights of the week was an invitation up to the residential summit of Roundtop above Honolulu, where I enjoyed a nice breakfast prepared by Jan Medusky. He and his wife Vi Jones-Medusky furnished their house with my paintings back in the mid 90's, so it was kind of a treat to revisit these pieces in their context. Gratifyingly enough they held up well and still look good even though I'd like to think I've improved in my work.

Jan and Vi are both super people, and Vi is especially memorable for her wonderfully positive, even radiant outlook. This is all the more remarkable given that she has Lou Gehrig's disease and is getting around in a wheelchair these days, after years of being a star surfer, runner, and all around athlete. She verbally pounced on me when I typically came out with some bit of negativity having to do with current economics (mine in particular). "Your life is a garden," she says, "and you have to plant what you want to grow!"

This is worthy advice, and I will seek to tend my life garden with greater care, weeding out the negativity when I notice it....