Friday, October 07, 2011

New AJ Paintings at the Gallery

Following my trip to O'ahu and a brief holo-holo around the Big Island, I finished up some smallish paintings to put in the gallery. The O'ahu paintings will migrate over to the Cedar Street Gallery in a few weeks, while the Kohala area paintings will go up to my friend Prakash's beautiful Elements gallery in Hawi. There is even a very classic view of Foster Gardens which I did in the late 90's. The style is a bit more precise and careful than my current work.

(Double click on the images to see them at a larger size)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

More O'ahu fun....

Noe Tanigawa gave me the birthday present of a Butoh class, of all things. If I expected anything, it was a sort of free-form contact improv but with lots of angst and darkness. Instead, the teacher led us through endless exercises that were incredibly physically demanding, kind of like a Graham technique but with the most charming visualizations. For example we were told to smell a flower growing out of our chest, which was a more poetic way of saying "Chest out, breathe!". The teacher was a tiny woman of indeterminate age, with the most expressive face and gestures imaginable. Completely charming and delightful. At one point we were turning from tiny baby monkeys into giant Buddhas, and to watch her movements was to completely believe in the transformation.

I joined Mark Brown for a painting session at Waimea Valley. He was painting the lower two panels of an enormous vertical triptych, in a free lyrical style very evocative of Gauguin.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Adventures on O'ahu

I came over to O'ahu to attend an opening ceremony and preview at the Disney Aulani Resort, in Ko'olina, west of Pearl Harbor. I'm lucky to be able to stay at the Nu'uanu home of my dear friend, mentor and "big sistah" Mary Philpotts McGrath, and her very kindhearted and tolerant husband John.

The Aulani resort is very spectacular, but the event was somewhat of a bummer for me. Not only was my own contribution nowhere to be seen, but it actually took a huge last minute effort on the part of Peggy Krantz, my art rep, to find it! So after a whole evening of ogling the spectacular artworks by OTHER members of the art community, who are probably all buying villas in France with the proceeds from this commission, I was practically choking back tears as I searched for my own artwork. Once I found it, though, I was pleased that it looked good in its location and was not an embarrassment to me.

Mary herself did some wonderful panels which were hanging in the spa area, totally suggestive of underwater tranquillity.

The next morning we trouped up to Jonathan Edwards Staub's home on a ridge on the Roundtop mountain, with views in both directions toward Diamond Head and Ewa, and with one of the most stunning gardens in between. A stellar group of designers and artists assembled to work on plein air paintings and other projects. I photographed Debby Young clambering up the pathway to get out of the drizzling rain.

Today I enjoyed a little painting time with Mark Brown, who was working in Ho'omaluhia botanical gardens with his friend Greg. I set myself up and painted the same view, but of course my version is much smaller and blue-er than his!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Native Plants and Critters

Inspiration is not always timely or convenient for me. I knew I wanted to enter something into the Hawai'i Nei art show opening this friday at the Wailoa Center in Hilo (opening reception 5-7), but I didn't know that when the impulse congealed it would be in the form of three huge canvases, 4' x 6'. I'd always wanted to depict one of the massive koa trees that grow in isolated locations on the Hawaiian Islands. These trees are so huge and old that often their limbs bend down to the ground in graceful curves like branches in a Japanese screen. So I finally decided, "if not now, when?" and got to work.

Into the branches of the koa tree I painted a Hawaiian Hawk, or io, and a few i'iwi and amakihi songbirds. I'm not sure that the little birds would actually fly so close to the fierce bird of prey.

I had to deliver the painting in separate components which I screwed together into a big folding screen since none of the walls at the center are large enough. While there I was surprised to find that several other gallery artists had entered and gotten into the show!

The Hawai'i Nei show just moved from its original location at the Volcano Art Center, and was shepherded to its new home by the familiar gallery personnel Ter and Fia. It's a great showcase for native species lovers, regardless of their professional experience.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mobile Hanging Thingies

Randy Takaki who does the installation at the East Hawai'i Cultural Center is a master of his craft. He took the apparent chaos of Elfie Wilkins-Nacht's very prolific and abundant offerings and turned them into a very elegant and attractive show. My own pieces were problematic in that no one had ever come up with this format of hanging panels before. So I ended up hanging all of those myself. I think the end result is quite nice, although different from my expectations.

For one thing I had hoped all the windows of the room could be opened up to the wind and light, but unfortunately only one was made available to me, and we couldn't budge the glass. So in a land of beautiful breezes the room is stuffy and still. I am hoping to have a fan blowing on the hangings so they will spin as intended.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On Trippiness

My friend Noe Tanigawa explained to me that a big criterion for her in creating artwork was the quality of "Trippiness." By this I think she means that visual fascination of a good LSD experience, or that otherworldliness we used to experience as children lying under the Christmas tree looking up through the branches with all the glitter and lights.

I decided to let loose with my inner trippiness in a collection of new works for an art show opening this Friday, July 1 at the East Hawaii Cultural Center. I have the small room on the makai corner of the building, while Elfie Wilkins-Nacht and the Hawai'i Photo Shooters are occupying the other galleries.

Most trippy of all are my spinning, hanging mobile paintings, done on both sides of wooden panels and suspended in clusters from the ceiling. The biggest are 18" across, and can work up quite a frightening momentum in a windstorm such as I sometimes have whipping through my studio. But in general they spin at a leisurely rate and one can enjoy a rippling play of light constantly moving across surfaces that have been heavily textured in modeling paste and then painted in metallic and iridescent colors. My favorite ones are the simplest, with brown and black shapes that recall African sculpture.

I'm also showing a pair of giant paintings with swimmers suspended among dolphins, or over coral formations, against a background of gleaming gold. I used a broom to create huge swirls of texture that illuminate and add an element of -- trippiness!

Also, finally, the (nearly) completed panels for my client on Kaua'i. I think having them formally displayed to the public will help me figure out what, if anything, needs to be done to finalize them. They are a sort of art-deco, socialist-realist fantasy recreation of a Hawai'i that may or may not have looked anything like this!