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Photos shed light on isle night life

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    "Soho, Honolulu" is part of the photography exhibit documenting Chinatown night life, now showing at the Contemporary Cafe.
    "Next Door, Honolulu 2" is also showing at the Contemporary Cafe.

Some of Honolulu’s night-life denizens braved the afternoon sun on the first Saturday of this month to see themselves as represented in the collective artwork of five fellow habitues on display at the Contemporary Museum cafe.

Organized by punk scene staple (and cafe waiter) Josh Hancock, "While You Were Sleeping (the city was awake)" showcases those fleeting moments in the dark, usually exposed by camera flash, that show up on an impulse on any number of social media sites.

"Everything was taken within a 5-mile radius, from in and around Chinatown to out to Apartment 3 on Kalakaua," he said. "Photo sharing is so big nowadays, it’s like an overload of imagery, but I think it’s super-significant that these artists are archiving all of these little moments."


The Contemporary Museum Cafe:

» When: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays, and noon to 2:30 p.m. Sundays, through June 30
» Admission: Free
» Call: 523-3362 or


All of the pieces—particularly those assembled by Aaron Yoshino, Christa Wittmier, Grady Gillan and Alex Delapena—present their photography in varying methods. Yoshino, who runs the website honozooloomedia, displays some 470 images taken over a three-year period on three large panels, his collages focusing on form and color composition.

Social columnist and blogger Wittmier preferred a rawer but still journalistic approach, putting hundreds of thousands of her candid photos in screen saver rotation on four laptop computers. Delapena’s photos shows the energy of local bands in performance, and Gillan’s snaps from his two point-and-shoot 35 mm cameras have a more artistic bent in use of exposure and composition.

Joseph Pa’ahana, a Maui-raised visual artist, uses his graphic arts and video expertise to reveal what he calls "ghostly spirits" that inhabit the empty streets and alleys of Chinatown, made with the help of his Canon EOS 7D digital camera and computer after-effects.

"I think all of our pieces make the night-life experience more personal than just posting pictures on Facebook," he said.


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