Tuesday, July 29, 2014         

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Retiring Tagami to hold last major exhibition

By Gary C.W. Chun


Artist Hiroshi Tagami built his reputation on impressionistic interpretations of Hawaii's expansive landscapes for more than 45 years.

His oils in particular have been his calling card ever since they were first displayed on the Hono­lulu Zoo fence back in 1966.

In more recent times, along with his former protégé and partner Michael Powell, Tagami's works have been on display at C.S. Wo & Sons, and the artist will offer new works at a show this weekend.

It wil be the last major exhibit for Tagami before he retires from running the Tagami & Powell Gallery and Gardens in Kaha­luu.

It was at the zoo fence in 1967 that Tagami struck up a friendship with Powell's father, a businessman visiting from the mainland. Later, during a Powell family visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Powell's father recognized Tagami studying a Rembrandt. The younger Powell, 11 years old at the time, remembers the impression the handsome and robust Tagami made on him.

Thirteen years later, Powell visited Hono­lulu and made friends with Tagami, and ended up moving to Oahu five years later for a job at Bank of Hawaii.

Powell left banking when Tagami asked him to help run the Kaha­luu gallery after the death of Tagami's then-business manager and partner, Richard Hart. In return, Tagami would mentor Powell in painting.

"Over the years, we've hosted visitors from all over the world, including film and stage actors, British lords, local moms and pops, and even the Dalai Lama, sometimes all at the same time," Tagami said.

"The place is a great social equalizer," Powell said.

By his count, Tagami has created more 7,500 paintings, and some of them still hang in galleries worldwide.

Tagami, who will turn 84 on Nov. 5, said he will continue painting from the Hawaii Kai Independent & Assisted Senior Living Community where he now lives.

"I've been ‘retired' over 50 years," said Tagami. "I say this because I've always painted at my own pace. It's been such a joy to share my thoughts and feelings visually."

To make an appointment to visit the Tagami & Powell Gallery and Gardens, call 754-7887. The online site is tagami­and­powell.com.

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