Tuesday, December 31, 2002


Top of the arts
Hawaii's no slouch when it comes to the arts. Although it's easy for those who grow up here to feel isolated and provincial, local talent has proved to be world-class, drawing media attention to our islands all year 'round.

Here are some of the top events in art and entertainment that took place in our back yard.

Hollywood came to Hawaii in June as Tia Carrere, Daveigh Chase and Jason Scott Lee strolled the red carpet with hundreds of movie lovers for Consolidated Waikiki Twins premiere of Disney's animated film "Lilo & Stitch."

Walt Disney's "Lilo & Stitch," inspired by the beauty of Kauai, had international appeal. Homegrown actors Jason Scott Lee and Tia Carrere came home for the Hawaii premiere at the Waikiki Twin Theatres. They're flanked by voice co-star Daveigh Chase (Lilo), left, and co-writer/co-director Dean DeBlois.

The animated film was inspired by Kauai, and its appeal has been international, generating some $250 million in ticket sales.

That success has led to a weekly children's TV series set to air in spring and a straight-to-video sequel. A DVD created in conjunction with the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau includes an extensive Hawaii promotion that includes history, cultural information, music and a virtual tour of state.

"Lilo & Stitch" likely will be nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Animation category.

The Waikiki theaters made news again when it closed abruptly in November, with Consolidated citing a decline in business.

More positive news came from Universal-Dreamworks' "Blue Crush," which made a modest $40 million but only cost -- after state investment credits -- about $15 million to make. Filming here provided film executives Brian Grazer and John Stockwell with Hawaii experience that's helping them to create a new prime-time television series, "The Break," with filming possibly starting early next year.

Made-in-Hawaii films to hit the big screen next year include "The Big Bounce," "Tears of the Sun" and "Helldorado," which brought Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson home.

-- By Tim Ryan

Janet Jackson's "All for You" concert at Aloha Stadium was Hawaii's biggest concert of 2002. It was also much better overall than her 1998 "Velvet Rope" concert.

Melissa Ethridge was the year's most impressive Blaisdell Arena concert; local girl Kim Char Meredith was a great opening act. The other particularly memorable concerts of 2002 were Natalie Merchant at the Sheraton-Waikiki, Jimmy Buffett on the beach at Duke's Canoe Club, the Commodores at the Waikiki Shell, Jim Brickman at the Hawaii Theatre, Journey in Blaisdell Arena, Michael Feinstein with the Honolulu Symphony, Lucky Dube at Kapono's, Wynton Marsalis & the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra at the Blaisdell, and Bela Fleck & the Flecktones at the Sheraton-Waikiki.

The most memorable concerts headlined by local stars were the Brothers Cazimero 25th Annual May Day Concert at the Waikiki Shell, Cecilio & Kapono at Kapono's in August, Keola Beamer with Matt Catingub and the Honolulu Symphony in November, and Willie K at Kapono's in December.

Biggest fizzle? Probably Pink, who drew less than 3,000 to Blaisdell Arena in December. Could the promoters' lax publicity have been the culprit?

-- By John Berger

Hawaii State Art Museum opened in November, housing treasures such Jean Charlot's painting of a Hawaiian drummer.

It took more than 30 years from concept to reality, but the Hawaii State Art Museum debuted Nov. 3 with a collection other states will envy.

HISAM was created to be the permanent home of some 5,000 works of art by 1,400 local artists that form the state's "Art in Public Places" collection. About 360 works were chosen for the inaugural exhibition, "Enriched by Diversity -- The Art of Hawai'i."

Dating from the 1960s to the present, the show is a testament to the vision of early planners such as Alfred Preis. Beyond being a display of talent, the works managed to capture Hawaii's social and political as well as visual history, with years of traditions, values and pride depicted on the walls.

The exhibition will remain on view for a year in hope that all will be able to see it.

The other big art story was the opening of Doris Duke's home Shangri-La as a museum for Islamic art. Guests are now able to peek into the late heiress's living room, dining room and courtyards for views of ceramic ware, textiles, carved wooden doors, marble screens and tile murals presented in the context of everyday living, rather than in the sterile confines of museum-style glass cases. Among the tour highlights is a look at her Mughal garden planted with cypress and citrus, and a 13th-century mihrab, or prayer niche.

-- By Nadine Kam

The Dec. 6 opening of 2100 Kalakaua provided the dress-up party of the year as Honolulu's best dressed proved there is a place for fashion even in a place where weather dictates a uniform of T-shirts and shorts.

The grand opening celebration for Boucheron, Chanel, Gucci, Tiffany, Tod's and Yves Saint Laurent was marked by models, champagne, a visit by Paloma Picasso and a free concert by Al Green.

Yet even as these leading designers have tried to move forward with razor-sharp tailoring and spare lines, the look on the street the past year has been pure Boho.

Peasant and hippie bohemian looks straight out of the '70s gave us a feeling of comfort and security in the absence of market and political reassurance. Soft peasant blouses and beaded and embroidered jeans -- sand-blasted, bleached and cut down to there -- captured the schizo look of "new vintage." Shades of Janus. Are we going forward or backward? We refused to greet the uncertainty of the future, retreating instead to the garden, where we drank in the mana of turquoise and coral.

Those who took a more active approach to life looked to athletes as fashion's newest icons. Skater and snowboard looks were just the start; we've graduated to country-club territory, as will become more evident in 2003. Tennis anyone?

If we weren't trying to recapture our youth, we were trying to be perfect gentlemen in Armani suits or women in feminine, ladylike dresses and skirts.

Most importantly, with the women's market already saturated, designers are looking to boost business by focusing on men and all signs indicate peacocks are coming out of hiding and are ones to emulate. Listen up guys, ZZ Top was right when singing, "Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man."

-- By Nadine Kam

Local author Takashi Matsuoka's "Cloud of Sparrows" got international attention and earned him a movie deal.

Local author Takashi Matsuoka's "Cloud of Sparrows" made news around the world as it ventured into epic samurai territory.

Set at the end of the Tokugawa era, the ways of the samurai are disappearing and Matsuoka plays with the dueling concepts of fate and destiny through a Hollywood-ready mix of characters. Among them: a lord whose visions have driven him bloodthirstily mad; a beautiful geisha/ninja whose roots soil her; a beautiful American missionary woman (viewed as grotesque and misshapen by the Japanese) who's escaping her past; and an ornery American gunslinger trying to outrun his reputation.

Naturally, Hollywood came calling and movie rights were secured by Universal Studios.

Publishing rights have been sold for runs throughout Europe and Brazil, with a United Kingdom edition ready to hit bookshelves on Friday. Foreign editions for Italy and Australia/New Zealand are already out.

Matsuoka said he's been working hard on a sequel, "which my editor says the publisher's very eager to get. I suppose this means sales have been good."

In other book news: Rodney Morales proved that those who teach can do with his novel "When the Shark Bites," about a family trying to assert its culture in multicultural Hawaii. "Finding Paradise: Island Art in Private Collections," the "catalog" to Honolulu Academy of Arts' "Finding Paradise" exhibition in April, weighed in at six pounds and 396 pages, with 500 color illustrations and essays devoted to collectors of Hawaiiana. Edited by Don Severson and the academy's curator of Western art, Jennifer Saville, with photography by Michael Horikawa, it lovingly captures our fascination with objects, while showing how the objects have defined us outside the state.

Late-year additions by artist Wyland, photographer Kim Taylor Reece and Allen Seiden, who captured a history of Diamond Head, proved picture perfect and are bound for coffee tables statewide.

-- By Gary C.W. Chun

Nocturnal Sound Krew, who've become weekend fixtures at Grumpy's and Blue Tropix, made waves internationally in November by taking the prestigious International Turntablist Federation World Team Title for the second year in a row in Munich.

The win confirmed Hawaii's place on the international DJ map as 2002 was a banner year for visits by world-class DJs. Turntable icons like Goldie, LTJ Bukem, DJ Craze, Kid Koala and Mark Farina turned out in record numbers.

It was also the year that saw the sisters doing for themselves. Sisters In Sound, that is. The all-female DJ collective's popular weekend function, "Isis," brought a refreshingly "yin" perspective to the old boys club by unleashing a host of underground female turntable talents on the local club scene.

More up-and-coming Hawaii turntablists proved ready to make a move. Among them, Sacred Hearts Academy junior Tina Viernes, aka DJ Anit, who took top prize in the finals of Checkmate, considered one of the more competitive DJ battles outside ITF and DMC Hawaii regionals.

In other club news, it seemed as if Honolulu's ultra-fab, upper-crust club events at John Dominis, Waterfront Cafe and the W Honolulu Hotel were on the verge of an all-out war of the swanky venues. In the end, the W's "Wonderlounge" emerged victorious as host of Om Records' Honolulu monthlies, an honor bestowed on only a handful of cities nationwide.

-- By Shawn "Speedy" Lopes

THE LATE Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole still has the golden touch, becoming the third local artist to receive an RIAA-certified "gold" record. IZ joined previous recipients Glenn Medeiros and Don Ho after his second solo album, "Facing Future," was certified as having sold more than 500,000 copies since its 1993 release. This was deemed as a "first" for Hawaii by some because Medeiros' hit single and Ho's greatest hits album were released by national, not local, labels.

In other recording news, Jennifer Perri became an international recording artist, releasing her six-song Victor Entertainment CD, "Jennifer," here in July, following with a full-length album, also titled "Jennifer," in Japan in October.

Yasmeen Sulieman returned for a homecoming mini-concert at the Hawaiian Hut in August to support the national release of her debut album, "When Will It Be Me," on Magic Johnson/MCA, and Big Island expatriate Pepper returned home twice for mini-tours promoting its indie album, "Kona Town."

The Mana'o Company was the big winner at the 25th Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in May. TMC's big come-back project, "Spread A Little Aloha," received five awards.

Jon de Mello and Mountain Apple Co. had a first when it released the Brothers Cazimero "25th May Day Concert 2002" album in DVD format only.

And we mourned the deaths of entertainers including Moe Keale, James Grant Benton, John Norris and Randy Oness.

-- By John Berger

THERE WERE NO big national theater tours on the scale of "The Phantom of the Opera," "Les Miserables" or "Miss Saigon," but Honolulu proved it could stage its own spectacles as Diamond Head Theatre delivered an impressive ensemble production of "Titanic," and was rewarded for the effort. It received eight Po'okela Awards -- including "Best Ensemble Performance" and "Best Overall Musical" at the 19th annual awards ceremony in July.

Hawaii Theatre was the spot for a high-profile production of "The Vagina Monologues" featuring Mackenzie Philips one week and Loretta Swit the next. And audiences got a taste of Korean musical comedy with "Cookin,' " with blades flashing a la "Iron Chef."

Windward Community Theatre's beautiful Paliku Theatre opened to give local actors another venue. Tony Pisculli's all-female production of "Two Gentlemen From Verona" was a highlight of a summer Shakespeare festival there, and local theater legend Ron Bright came out of retirement (again) to direct Paliku's successful fall production of "Fiddler on the Roof."

-- By John Berger

ALOHA TOWER Marketplace eclipsed Waikiki and Restaurant Row as "ground zero" for mainstream nightlife, with the proximity of Kapono's, Don Ho's and Gordon Biersch providing critical mass. Kapono's and Gordon Biersch became popular sites for local CD release parties; Kapono's also established itself as a concert venue.

The Ocean Club at Restaurant Row showed it could still compete as it celebrated its 5th anniversary in February. It's also home to Honolulu's top recurring "special events," photographer Russell Tanoue's monthly "Electric Piranha Room" party.

Elsewhere on the live music scene, the Sheraton Waikiki honored Moe Keale with its first "Wall of Fame" exhibit in September, Genoa Keawe -- the guest of honor at "Embraceable You," a concert at the Hawaii Theatre in January -- celebrated her 84th birthday with a Halloween party and performance at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort, and ukulele players from Japan and Canada joined local musicians for Roy Sakuma's 32nd annual Ukulele Festival at the Kapiolani Park Bandstand in July.

The uke continues drawing new fans, and an inaugural Ukulele Exhibition and Conference featured a jam by Bill Tapia, Lyle Ritz, Byron Yasui and Benny Chong, at the Marriott in November.

Meanwhile, ukulele maestro Jake Shimabukuro keeps the instrument's possibilities interesting, jamming with Japanese shamisen player Hiromitsu Agatsuma at Chai's Island Bistro in May.

-- By John Berger

JEFF SCHATZ and Mahlon Moore shook up local radio as lite-rock KORL 99.5 morphed into "99.5 The Breeze" and introduced an all-local music playlist that included almost every style of music recorded here between 1960 and 1990 except reggae-derivative Jawaiian/"island" music, local-style "urban" groups, and gangsta-wannabe island rappers.

The new station (call letters KHUI-FM) was an instant hit as "The Breeze" built on its initial success with a series of monthly "Concert in the Courtyard" shows at the Sheraton Moana-Surfrider.

Two more noteworthy radio-sponsored events were KCCN/FM 100 celebrating 12 years of Jawaiian/"island music" radio with a two-night birthday bash at Waikiki Shell in July, and Kid Leo and the guys of 102.7 celebrating two years of "Da Bomb" with a capacity-plus crowd at Pipeline in November.

-- By John Berger

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