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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 24, 2003

Invited, juried artists put on impressive silver anniversary show

By Victoria Gail-White
Advertiser art critic

A silver anniversary demands something extra special, and the 25th anniversary exhibit of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce statewide juried art show delivers, with a great cast of artists, jurors and exhibition designers.

'Commitment to Excellence'

The Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce 25th Anniversary Art Exhibition

Through Aug. 29

10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday

Academy Art Center at Linekona

'Time No Time' Margaret Ezekiel

Through Sept. 5

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays

bibelot gallery


The exhibit brings together an impressive collection of 23 invited artists — exempt from the jurying process — and reads as a who's who in the art community, from Satoru Abe to Doug Young.

That may sound like an excessive number of invited artworks, considering that it limits space for artists who have submitted work for jurying, but many of the invited artists were featured in past Japanese Chamber exhibitions and recalled for the anniversary show. A few, such as Cora Yee, Rochelle Lum and Vicky Chock, were invited for the first time.

Thirty-five two- and three-dimensional works comprise the entire invited artists' contribution.

Tom Klobe, Momi Cazimero and John Wisnosky judged and selected 35 two-dimensional works. Greg Northrup, Yvonne Cheng and Fred Roster judged and selected 42 three-dimensional works.

According to art exhibition assistant Carol Hiramoto, there were 693 entries and 581 rejections. One of every six pieces was accepted. Judging from these statistics, local art aficionados have an excellent opportunity to preview the best the state has to offer in both established and new works.

Similar to the Artists of Hawai'i exhibit at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Japanese Chamber exhibits are viewed as prestigious competitions, with prize money awarded for work singled out by the judges.

Two-dimensional winners:

• First place: Linda Kane's "Night Walk Ho'omaluhia" (charcoal on paper), which I mentioned in my May 18 review of the Aloha Ho'omaluhia XIX exhibit. I called it the leading light of that show, and it still is in this exhibit.

"I lost four people, one after another," said Kane, "and decided to work on this piece every day. The environment here — the beauty of it, the mystery of it, the sacredness of so many places — has always influenced my work. I drew a memory of my night walks, especially walking under moonlight. I wanted to draw attention to things that we take for granted."

• Second place: Ezekiel Hwang's "Doll Collections" (silver gelatin photographs and mixed media), previously exhibited at Kapi'olani Community College's Koa Gallery.

"I was doing people portraits inspired by paper dolls" as part of a class project, Hwang said. "I took pictures of my male friends and cut them out like paper dolls and then layered them together. Some of the objects in the frame were my reactions to the picture and how they posed, as well as their projected personality and my response to them."

• Third place: Madeline McKay's "Paw Paw" (oil on canvas).

"The last painting that I did, 'The Long Goodbye,' took so much out of me, as it was painted for my late husband," said McKay. "It was such a relief to paint something that didn't pull on my emotions. Painting this gave me a lot of satisfaction and happiness. It was therapeutic."

Three-dimensional winners:

• First place: Johannette Rowley, "O'io" (earthenware, fish skin).

"I was totally surprised, shocked and honored, because this piece is so simple," said Rowley. "My friend Esther's father caught and gave me the 'o'io skin."

• Second place: Steve Martin's "Shino w/graffiti" (ceramic).

"It started out as a 50-pound ball of clay and ended up as a sphere that was wider than it was high," Martin said. "The pot was turned upside down and shino glaze was poured on it. Then it was turned right side up and kiawe wood ash was sprinkled on the wet glaze. There are drips going both ways."

• Third place: Corrine Kamiya's "Hangman" (bronze sculpture).

"I work intuitively and can't say why I'm doing marionettes," Kamiya said. "This is new work that I finished the day before I entered it into the show."

• Yomiuri America Inc. Outstanding Newcomer Award: Sandra Blazel's "Seeding the Clouds (Pray for Rain)" (acrylic on canvas).

"The title came to me before the painting did," said Blazel. "I was listening to the news about the drought and thought about seeding the clouds for rain. I was giggling the whole time I was painting it."

• Honorable mentions went to Jean Jacques Dicker for his photograph "Fish Tale" and to Tracy Gunn for her wire, plaster, ceramic and grout sculpture "Be Nice."

My only complaint about the exhibit has to do with separating artworks, including Martin's "Shino w/graffiti," from the main exhibition gallery, and placing them upstairs. Be sure to walk or take the elevator up so as not to miss those gems.

• • •

"Time No Time" represents the first work Kaua'i pastel artist Margaret Ezekiel has created in three years. She wasn't lacking inspiration; she was focusing her energy on taking care of her mother, who had a stroke and moved in with her and her husband, Steve.

Originally from Holland and raised in Indonesia, Ezekiel said of that period: "I learned a lot. The dying process was difficult for my mom. She fought until the end. She was 91. We were very close and we spoke Dutch every day."

She has no regrets about giving up her art for a while. When she started working on the 13 pieces for "Time No Time," she didn't stop until they were finished.

The first drawing for the show was "25 mph." On her way home, Ezekiel saw the scene with the church, moon, clouds and a speed limit sign. She sat by the side of road and immediately drew it on her phone bill.

In her series of five paintings "Time No Time," Mr. Campos, her 86-year-old neighbor, tends a communal taro patch.

"He is the first one in the patch and the last to leave," said Ezekiel. "He is vital and strong and represents that vital human spirit my mom had but couldn't use because of the wheelchair." She drew Campos to honor a way of continuing life evident in his spirit and essential connection to the earth.

Simple and elegantly portrayed, these pastel works echo like a prayer in a high-ceilinged church.

"Telling Time (by clouds)," a series of three paintings, plays on our logic and visual perceptions. But the joke is on us. "You can't tell time by clouds," Ezekiel said. "They were placed in such a way that makes you want to hang them in another order. I wanted to focus on a sense of timelessness. It so important to us to have a time line, but actually it is kind of meaningless." The moments she feels as gifts are not bound by time constraints.

Ezekiel works to music; her dad was a violinist. "It is like a bridge," she said. "It helps me step aside to let the work come through. And the same music bridges my coming back to a piece I didn't finish."

Ezekiel's pastel drawings are sensitive renderings of the harmony between the mysterious and the obvious. Impeccably drawn and uplifting, her use of light and reflection seems to bring the clouds to earth for us, as if to say, look, you can touch it.

"When I saw the work finished, I felt as though I allowed it to be," she said. "I didn't force any of the pieces or let them take a direction intellectually. I know this sounds corny, but it is an experience that comes out of love."

And now she feels revved up and ready to start again.