Art center instructors get their moment in spotlight
BY Lynn Cook
Special to The Advertiser
This is it. This is the year to make a leap of faith that will land you in an art studio, brush in hand, paint, ink or indigo dyes begging to be spread on canvas, paper or cloth. No more longing looks and thoughts of "Could I make that?" as you admire beautiful ceramic bowls. Just do it!
Commitment made, if you're looking for a teacher, you may find a very visual answer to that question at the Academy Art Center at Linekona.
Art Center director Vince Hazen was looking for a way to "shake out ideas about art" among the staff members of Hawai'i's largest private art school when he set up the current exhibit. Hazen's goal was to highlight the 50 working artists and their media, and engage the entire staff and community in a first-ever staff exhibition.
Many highly recognizable names in Hawai'i's art world are included.
"There are a lot of surprises on the walls," Hazen said, pointing out a wall-sized installation piece by Andrew Rose.
Known for his mastery of oil painting, Rose was inspired by the recent Honolulu Academy of Arts exhibition of Hokusai's Japanese woodblock prints.
"I took the idea of the floating papers in the historic print and translated them into floating watercolors in my 'Gust of Wind' painting," Rose said.
Busy with teaching at Linekona and Island Pacific Academy, Rose laughed and said he handed off his paintings to the new exhibition coordinator, Alban Cooper, and said, "Bye, gotta go." But Cooper made do.
Cooper, very new to the job, had just installed his own work. His tall birchwood lamp sheds light on a chintz-covered wall phone and clock art of the out-going designer, Alan Konishi. Cooper, a recent University of Hawai'i graduate in design, has a job description that also includes graphic designer and materials manager. Hazen said just the job listing scared off a few candidates.
"No matter how busy our days are, we all still find time to create art," he said.
"Lint," he said, with a smile.
His entry, "Flamingo Legs," is carefully drawn and topped with "feathers" of felted pink dryer lint. Before another question could be asked, he said, "Yes, everyone is bringing me dryer lint."
Viewers can "expect more of the unexpected in the show," Hazen said, as he pointed out art created by the museum's outreach program coordinator, Pearlyn Salvador.
Salvador's work, "A Narrow Opening," falls like delicate woven silk. The ceiling-high hanging is made of indigo-dyed junk mail.
John Bade, who manages the ceramics studio at Linekona, calls his entry, "Symbiotic Seaforms," a puzzle.
"I make pieces large. Too large to fire all in one," Bade said. "This sea anemone form has a tiny shrimp that preens and protects the anemone, a bit like the work I do in our studio."
Bade ran the studio at the Richards Street YWCA for 13 years before moving to Linekona.
"When anyone asks me, I jump right in to suggest and direct, and prevent the mistakes that can happen in clay," he said.
Kathleen O'Bryan, the new studio director of the VSA Arts Hawai'i-Pacific at Linekona, is not new to the art world. O'Bryan's unique pastel works have been shown in galleries from Maui to Santa Fe.
"I was moving back to Maui when I was lucky enough to stop here at the Academy," she said. Her new task is to create and direct programs that enhance the lives of children and adults challenged with disabilities. "I am so new that I was surprised to be invited into the staff show," she said.
O'Bryan agrees with Rose that the exhibition offers an opportunity to see what working artists produce.
During the opening night reception, the staff checked off their list of students.
"We have a brain surgeon, professional artists, politicians, shop keepers and a dozen other professions," Rose said. "They walk into class and they are all the same. Everyone is simply an artist. Sometimes we never know what they do 'in real life' until long after the course is done."
The Academy Art Center offers year-round classes for children and adults, short workshops, programs in the schools and open studio sessions.
The classes run from the obscure oshibana pressed fresh flower art form to lost wax casting for jewelry design.
The instructors' list includes painter, printmaker George Woollard, painter Chuck Davis, watercolorists Roger Whitlock and Gay Jefferson, Honolulu Printmakers director Laura Smith, copper engraver Jared Wickware, fiber artist Liz Train and a dozen others.