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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 23, 2004

Twenty years of art exhibits at Ho'omaluhia

By Victoria Gail-White
Special to The Advertiser

 •  'Aloha Ho'omaluhia XX'

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Sunday

Through May 30

The Gallery at Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden


Companion Web site: www2.hawaii.edu/~sem/aloha

Twenty years ago, the first art exhibit took place in the then-new gallery in Kane'ohe's Ho'omaluhia Visitor Center. Since then, a group of dedicated artists has mounted an annual exhibit. Initially, the exhibit grew from concerns that the gardens were being threatened by the encroachment of the H-3 Freeway. That threat is gone, but the insidious, ongoing threat to our fragile ecosystems is not.

Sixteen artists, most of them well known in the art community and art teachers at various community colleges on O'ahu, have submitted works. They remain committed to preserving the beauty of nature through their images and addressing the complex relationship between humanity and nature. Many of the artists have shown work here in the past. Sarah Bremser curated the exhibit.

The Ho'omaluhia garden has breathtaking views of the Ko'olau Mountains. Its 1 1/2-mile drive to the visitor center is a joy — so many varieties of trees and flowers border the road while birds swoop and sing. Although gated, it is free and open to the public during business hours.

Artists Sean K.L. Browne, Ka-Ning Fong, Norman Graffam, Linda Hutchinson, Linda Kane, Antoinette (Toni) Martin, Noreen Naughton (organizer and curator from 1986-1998) and Sharon Sussman were inspired by the garden's wealth of flora and panoramic views for their paintings and drawings.

David Behlke's four colored pencil drawings on black archival paper are stylized images of plants that appear, on first glance, to be richly embroidered.

The issues between nature and culture are addressed in the clever digitally processed works of Jan Hathaway and Diana Jeon and the mixed-media on paper works of Kloe Kang.

Diane Nushida-Tokuno's ethereal "Garden Spirit" photographs and Russell Sunabe's sizeable oil on canvas, "Kane'ohe," touch on a spiritual connection to nature — what we can't see with our naked eyes.

Carl Jennings' video installation is listed but unfortunately is not in the exhibit.

Sometimes, nature has a way of reminding us that its force and survival are more constant and powerful than anything man can invent or create.

Or possibly, in the case of Marcia Morse's mixed-media "Nature's Nest Egg," it is the ability of the artist to summon nature as this piece has done. A woven nest with five eggs painted with branches, sky, petals, skin and leaves sits inside a clear plastic cover which has been marked by the visits (droppings) of some real avian admirers.