Compassion for the Earth” is the title I would give the Art Faculty Hō‘ike 2019, an engaging show of faculty artwork that was on display in WCC’s Gallery ‘Iolani from Sept. 13 to Oct. 13.
There was an autumnal feeling to the exhibit, not to say a bit of spookiness appropriate to the pre-Halloween season.
Ghosts seemed to emerge from the luminous oils in the painting by William Zwick. The portrait of a woman standing in a box–her eyes revealed in a deeper box–seemed to haunt the viewer.
Rene Hutchins, a student working at the gallery, pointed out that the eyes are those of a man–in fact the painter himself–opening up a whole new layer of mystery. What are those brown eyes asking of us? To look, to see, to have compassion?
During the show’s opening on Sept. 13, students clustered around the portrait, amused by how Zwick included a memo taped to the painting.
“It looks so real that Toni (the gallery director) tried to pull it off when the painting arrived,” one man said as we all laughed with recognition.
I had to get very close to make sure the memo was part of the painting; it’s a “trick-the-eye” effect. The memo dictates the precise height the painting is to be hung. I suspect that’s the height that makes most viewers feel that the person trapped in the box is gazing right into their eyes.
Flanking Zwick’s painting, Toni Martin’s pastels of mists shrouding the Ko’olau Mountains breathed with light, offering the kind of afterglow you get from sipping an aged cognac.
From the rear of the gallery, a color photograph beamed at me, its background of intense turquoise shouting like a warning. In the alarming blue was a pale torso whose face was obliterated by a pineapple showing off its diamond-cut, scratchy skin. Like a pie shoved in a person’s face, it seemed an insult disguised as a joke. “Welcome to Paradise” is the title. Is it a comment on the commercialization of the natural beauty of Hawai‘i? I think so, and done with such confidence by Kelly Ciurej that it woke me up and made me see the danger afresh.
In the gallery corner, I saw wooden bowls, so thin that sunlight seemed to pass through them. As I returned through the main gallery, I noticed three porcelain vases by Jacob Jackson. One had a glaze featuring blue-green circles that sang with joy. Nearby on a pedestal was Bryce Myers’ small stoneware statue of a nude woman covered in a golden patina. She glowed with pleasure, just the way I felt seeing this show.
by Leilani Madison, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter