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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, September 5, 2004

Raku artists probe creativity in clay

By Victoria Gail-White
Special to the Advertiser

The ARTS at Marks Garage is showing raku by Wayne Turl and others.
Every year for the past 28 years, a large group of potters, spectators and families has packed their cars and trucks to the brim with clay pots, food, clothing, camping and kiln supplies and headed out to Kualoa Regional Park for the weekend's Raku Ho'olaule'a events. Raku is a 16th-century Japanese ceramic art form.

The products of the weekend's organized chaos are on display in the gallery at The ARTS at Marks Garage.

A creative camp-out of this magnitude exists because of the production efforts of Hawai'i Craftsmen (a statewide, nonprofit organization founded in 1966) and the commitment of a legion of trusty volunteers.

"Volunteers and group leaders meet a year in advance," says Jo Rowley, Hawai'i Craftsmen's program director. "Everyone involved has specific jobs: setting up the park and the community kiln, helping with the games and events, and cleaning up."

Included in the scheduling are free demonstrations by the Hawaii Glass Artists (glass-blowing) and visiting artists (wet clay and glazing), which are open to the public. Non-rakuites can witness the magic and play with the process, if they feel so inclined, by purchasing pots to glaze in community kilns.

"Cak!," an acrylic work by I Made Sumayasa, depicts the story of the Ramayana, a Hindu epic. The word cak refers to a vocal sound made by performers of the Ramayana in Balinese music. It also is the symbol of community. Sumayasa, who has lived in Hawai'i since 2002, is a Balinese painter whose works reflect many traditional Balinese arts forms, practices and themes. The work is on display at Gallery on the Pali.
Dave and Boni Deal, a husband-and-wife team from Washington state's Cascade Mountains, were the visiting artists selected to inspire this event. For 30 years, the Deals have explored raku collaboratively. Here they also judged the raku-fired works from the weekend's event for the award-winning art exhibit.

The unpretentious and intense beauty of their own work, now on display at Marks Garage, "Herons and Moon" plate and "Egret Ewer," bear witness to the simple, off-the-grid way they live with water drawn from a creek, no electricity and a foot-powered kick wheel.

"Potters in Hawai'i are so well-informed," they write in their guest artists' statement, "on top of current pottery knowledge and trends — a hub of East and West."

This isn't new; visiting artists have been echoing this kind of statement for years because it's well deserved. Is anybody listening?

The Deals selected a wide range of work for contemporary and minors' categories, as well as floating sculpture and pot-race entrants (not on display at the Marks Garage exhibit).

"The first-place winner distinctly exhibits the touch of the hand and the touch of the fire," they wrote in the statement accompanying the exhibition.

First place winners were Jeffrey Berenberg's "Gong" in the contemporary category and Micah Thrasher's "Spiral" in the minors' category. He won third place last year.

"Second place reflects the excitement of fire in color and pattern," they wrote.

Second-place winners were Joel Park's contemporary "Copper Storm" and Jamiee Leigh Y.M. Maeda's "Support our Troops" in the minors' category.

"Third place is dramatic in interplay of light and dark," the Deals wrote.

"Moon" by Penny Kaiman-Rayner is on exhibit at Gallery on the Pali. The piece was painted with a batik tool called tjanting. It consists of a small brass bowl with a handle and spout through which paint flows.
Winners were Barbara Guidage's contemporary "Black Coral" and Chelsea Thrasher's "Fairy Vase" in the minors' category.

"Honorable-mention pieces are graceful and fluid with beauty of form and glazes," the Deals wrote.

Contemporary-category awards went to Jeff Chang, Catherine H. Moher and Wayne Turl. Minor category awards were given to Caleb Cariss, Micah Thrasher and Joy Yamashita.

The Urasenke Foundation, dedicated to the Way of Tea, annually judges this traditional category, which encompasses raku related to the Japanese tea ceremony. Tomo Hisa Sochi Yamamoto returned to judge this event.

Winning first place was Eleanor Onizuka's "Muzasashi No. 1" Second place: Ed Higa's "Teabowl (Handbuilt) Red." Third place: Barbara Nickerson's "Fern Teapot."

This year's installation, although attractive in its color groupings, seemed considerably less in number. According to Rowley, it isn't.

Making an allowance for the challenges any group concerned with installing work in this gallery space faces, it is still not a good idea to place a smaller, beautifully glazed pot so close to the floor that it can't be appreciated unless you're either two feet tall or ready to stoop down and give it a better look.

Overall, the show is a delight: dramatic, imaginative and classic shapes, electric glazes and metallic sheens glow from the work of 39 artists and 15 minors. It is a fiery family affair.

Bridging moods

The title of the exhibit, "Balinese Tradition/Contemporary Resonance," at Gallery on the Pali couldn't be more appropriate for the paintings of artists I Made Sumayasa and Penny Kaiman-Rayner. Their art, like their passion for gamelan music, bridges lively Balinese traditions with more meditative Javanese aesthetics.

'Raku Ho'olaule'a 2004'

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Through Sept. 11

The ARTS at Marks Garage

1159 Nu'uanu Ave.

'Balinese Tradition/Contemporary Resonance'

9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday

1 p.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Through Sept. 16

Gallery on the Pali


Sumayasa is a traditional Balinese painter. His five richly detailed acrylic-on-canvas paintings are based on traditional Balinese themes. People, spirits, masks, animals, clouds, umbrellas, costumes and architecture are meticulously painted using some of the traditional materials he makes — bamboo brushes and natural plant pigments.

After sketching and outlining the multitude of figures in a painting, he outlines the work in black ink and applies many layers of acrylic paint. The positions of the many eyes, heads, hands and feet in his paintings are not repeated, and each gesture is meaningful to him.

"Bharatayuda," a painting of the battle scene from the Mahabharata (an epic Hindu poem) between brothers Karna and Arjuna, packs a powerful message that is relevant today. "As long as we are not at peace within ourselves, then we will continue to make war with others," writes Sumayasa in the text that accompanies his painting.

"Barong" and "Cak!," representing two dances, are crammed with cultural significance.

Born in Batulantang, Bali, Sumayasa moved to Hawai'i in 2002 to join his wife. Two of his paintings were juried into the Artists of Hawaii show this year.

Kaiman-Rayner plays the peking, a gamelan instrument, in a Javanese orchestra that performs in Hawai'i. Her five paintings, similar to her original work incorporating Javanese designs in her batik fabrics, are intensely patterned.

She has been painting for more than 30 years. Her study of batik familiarized her with the tjanting tool. She enjoyed working with it so much that she developed a way to use it with paint instead of wax.

"The viscosity of paint is important," she says, "because you don't actually put the point down on canvas. There is a bubble of paint on the end of the tool, and the canvas actually pulls the paint on." For this exhibit she used metallic paints to reflect light.

Kaiman-Rayner believes she has melded two art forms into one: the textile patterns of batik and acrylic painting on canvas. Her immersion into the culture of Java adds depth.

"Perpetual Motion," a large black-and-white painting, looks like a vortex. The result of lengthy viewing could be either enlightenment or self-hypnosis. "These are paintings of energy," she says.

Artists alternate the time-consuming paintings in this installation. This changes the visual detail and gives the eye the hiatus necessary to connect and separate the artworks. The palpable energy in the paintings of both of these artists is refreshing and invigorating.