Anyone who knows me has seen that lately I've been obsessed with Hawaiian kapa (tapa, or barkcloth) stamp designs. This is a holdover from some fruitful collaborations with Mary Philpotts and her gang over the last several years. But it's also just an increasing appreciation for how creatively the kanaka maoli (native people) used their resources and combined their design motifs. I have a big box of linoleum blocks that emulate the designs, although not at the original sizes which were scaled to the limitations of carved bamboo ('ohe kapala) and the cut stems of plants.
I keep searching for a synthesis of my regular painting style with the graphic brilliance of old Hawai'i nei. I've collaged printed paper into paintings and on their borders. Tuko inspired me with her border for Nikko's memorial photo portrait (see August 3), with its colorful collage of my tapa print origami papers.
Now I've been unearthing old paintings of mine and making cards and prints using kapa-motif borders. This gives a nostalgic effect that is appropriate to the atmosphere of the Puna of a decade or two ago, when the road was still a sleepy one-lane byway paved in a motley patchwork of red and grey cinder. These cards are printed on my home Epson photo r1900 and are now available at the gallery which, astonishingly, will be celebrating its 5th anniversary with a party on the first Friday of September.