There’s a lot to be said for compatibility, and the joint show by George Woollard and Chuck Davis at Cedar Street Galleries drives home that point. The friends, who share studio space in Palolo, present paintings (by Davis) and sculpture (Woollard) that coexist beautifully in the intimate gallery. Each collection explores the beauty and spirit of the natural world.
"George and I have known each other for 25 years," says Davis, who was a student of Woollard’s in the 1980s. "We have a close relationship. Every day, we talk about our work and show each other what we’re doing. We haven’t done any conscious planning (for the show), but our work seems to mesh easily."
Davis’ works are a series of acrylic and oil paintings that depict stacked stones and refer to that spiritual practice.
"I was exposed to this in Asia. Buddhists stack rocks as forms of prayers, and little kids stack them to make wishes," he says. "This is another form of that sort of thing.
"This series is basically a snapshot of where I’m at with my art right now."
DAVIS’ SERIES originated as works on paper that were shown alongside Woollard’s art in two exhibits in Korea.
Entry to Korea’s art world exposed Woollard to a special Korean lacquer few are familiar with in Hawaii: cashew lacquer. The artist used the substance on all the sculptures in the Cedar Street show.
Though the lacquer comes from across the ocean, the heart of the sculptures comes literally from material in Woollard’s own back yard in Palolo’s rain forest.
"I live way up in the back of Palolo, and there are lots of lychee trees on my property. I’ve wanted to do sculpture all my life, but I don’t have a lot of money so I capitalize on resources here," he says. "Lychee wood is a nice wood, really dark and really hard."
Woollard says he learned to maneuver a chain saw so he could "do curves and rough out the forms suggested in the wood." He then finishes the process with planers, sanders, rasps, wire brushes and sometimes even fire.
"I’m finding a form within the wood that’s waiting to come out," he says.
When he finds that form, the artist adds epoxy to prevent cracking or breakage, then coats the sculpture with layers of lacquer — sometimes as many as a dozen — to bring out the surface of the wood. He polishes the piece to a high gloss with silver and chrome polish.
Woollard says the point of his work is to "find the Hawaiian-ness in it," a reference to traditional art forms.
"The tiki, for instance, is very muscular and robust, and Hawaiian artwork is meant to carry that mana. I’m trying to reconnect with that," he says. "Hawaii’s natural environment has a healthy vigor, and I want my work to carry that spirit of the land."