Three arts educators are exhibiting work at Koa Gallery in "Confluence," running through Oct. 9.
Retired teacher Kit Cameron presents sketches in colored pencils; Suzanne Kanatsiz of Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, creates a special installation; and Jon Hamblin, instructor at Mid-Pacific Institute, displays his latest paintings.
Though not everyone will recognize Hamblin’s name, his vivid paintings are likely familiar to most. The pieces feature signature human figures floating amid vibrant day and night skies laden with fluffy clouds, silver stars and, always, positive written messages.
Hamblin spent a couple of years of his childhood in Haiti, which may account for his love of vibrant hues and his use of corrugated metal roofing as a canvas.
"Here in the U.S., the use of intense color usually reflects whimsy, while in the Third World, the colors represent vibrancy and passion, but they’re not whimsical," he says. "In Haiti, people are extremely poor and use different surfaces for material. I used to use corrugated metal, which is heavy. But luckily, my girlfriend gave me corrugated aluminum she saved. It’s much lighter."
On exhibit: Through Oct. 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays
Where: Koa Gallery, Kapiolani Community College
Call: 734-9374 or visit koagallery.kcc.hawaii.edu
"Jon is on the upper echelons of painters in this state. He’s a gifted colorist, and though he’s been doing this a long time, his work stays fresh and contemporary," says Koa director David Behlke. "He keeps a journal by his bed, and sometimes in the middle of the night, he gets up to write. He’s not conscious of what he’s written until he rereads it later. Then he incorporates it in his artwork."
Hamblin says his inspiration for including the messages goes back to the 1970s, when he served in the Peace Corps in Belize, digging outhouses.
"There are moments when words ring, and that’s the experience I’m shooting for," he says. "In Belize, people would put up signs in front of their houses that said something like ‘Let Freedom Ring.’ Likewise, the words in my paintings can mean different things to different people at different times. I want to be positive because I think there are a lot of people out there in pain, and I want them to be transported by the imagery and have self-recognition for the good things we all do."
CAMERON’S contribution comprises 22 miniature land- and cityscape pencil drawings of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she splits her time with Honolulu.
Behlke says one of the things he likes best about the series is Cameron’s humble medium.
"The thing about color pencils is that we all tried ’em, and we often discard them as something we all did in grade school," he says. "I like that she takes a very basic material, one that is just a step up from crayons, to generate a whole series of poetic visuals."
Kanatsiz spent 3 1/2 days in the gallery to install her intriguing piece. The process captivated Behlke as well.
"She diluted sticks of charcoal in water and painted the wall a cool gray, then came in with an eraser to erase areas of the wash. She created an effect that looks like a pebble dropped in water," he says. "I find the wall an object for meditation."
Alongside the gray wall, Kanatsiz suspended stuffed rock pigeons with string and hung a black shroud. Strategic lighting completes the work.
Needless to say, the installation stops visitors in their tracks. Behlke calls it "heroic and poetic."
"It feels operatic," he raves.