CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Artwork at right, that went to Japan, was created by, from top, Chae Hopkinson, Paul Iseri, Keana-Ashley Pimenta, Johnny Ruiz and Joseph Lee.
Snowbound Sapporo revels in the free use of color in an art exhibit by isle children
King Intermediate School students brought a bit of blue skies, tropical sun and vibrant flora to snowy Sapporo in January when Japanese artist Yoko Takeoka teamed with King art teacher Jean Noguchi to show the students' class work in Japan.
The art that caused a stir in Japan is back home and on display at HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union at Windward Mall.
King Intermediate art teacher Jean Noguchi keeps the credit union supplied with artwork throughout the year. She says when she's changing exhibits and the walls are bare, worried customers come in to ask if the credit union is moving house.
But they're staying put: "Floral mixed media" by King students opens May 15 and runs through June 15.
On display: King Intermediate student art exhibited in Japan
Place: HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union, Windward Mall
Date: Through May 15
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays and 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays
"It was a spontaneous opportunity," says Noguchi, a longtime friend of the artist.
The exhibition of 54 works was held in the Daimaru store -- an outfit "sort of like Neiman Marcus," Noguchi says -- in its gallery, which takes up the store's entire seventh floor. Daimaru's art space is usually reserved for big-time artists like Takeoka, but because it was winter, the off-season, and the works came with Takeoka's recommendation, the show was readily welcomed.
Takeoka has been exposed to isle students' works for years. Her annual vacations to Hawaii always include visits with Noguchi, who shares her students' work. The artist has long admired the creativity of local youth, whom she says are "free in their use of images and color."
Enthusiastic Sapporo residents had similar reactions to the art.
Directors from other galleries came to see the show, and everyone commented on the "color and spontaneity" of the works, says Noguchi, who traveled to Japan to attend the reception. Even the city's newspaper covered the exhibit. "We got exciting reviews," she says.
"It's very, very cold in Sapporo. There are mountains upon mountains of snow. The city's filled with grays and blacks and neutral tones. Then, suddenly, in this show there's all this color," she says, explaining the buzz the artwork caused. "Color is second nature (in Hawaii) -- you look outside every day and there's vivid blue sky, vivid green, flowers everywhere. But in Sapporo it's very subdued."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
King Intermediate students hold up art they created that made its way to a posh Sapporo art gallery in January. Students are, front row from left, Daniel Tyler and Mai Shouse; second row: Kiana Kumai, Yoshimasa Wood and Pumehana Copeland; third row: Chae Hopkinson, Nicolette Trevenen and Tiffany Enslen; fourth row: Marquis McKinzie, Fraser Ann Fellezs and Sebastian Bozlee.
FOR ALL the to-do the works created in Japan, things began in quite ordinary fashion. Noguchi was simply plugging away at teaching art.
"Basically I want my students to have as many experiences as possible, so I'm really big on mixed media," she says. "I want them to use as many materials, techniques and processes as possible.
"I want them to take risks."
The works sent to Japan illustrate Noguchi's success in her goals. Japanese audiences immediately responded to the freedom and individuality -- the risks -- in the works.
All were produced using multiple techniques and processes. They included Halloween silhouettes with drawing and 3-D art, pencil drawings with watercolor painting, and scratch techniques of ocean and animal motifs.
All the practical art instruction paid off when Takeoka called to say she had secured a venue. At that point, Noguchi had no idea what to expect.
"All she said was, 'Send artwork. Put them in a box and send them,'" Noguchi recalls.
It took attending the reception for Noguchi to understand why Takeoka wanted the show held in Sapporo.
Naturally, back in Kaneohe, the students barely realize the impact their works had in a city far away.
"I see some of them on campus and tell them their works were in Japan, and they get excited for the moment. But at this age they have other priorities," Noguchi says with a laugh.
AS FOR whether there's a possibility for more shows like this one, Noguchi can't say. In a nutshell, "it's an expensive project."
Daimaru paid to ship the artwork to and from Japan, and made glossy posters and brochures to promote the exhibit. Bearing such costs would be a formidable roadblock for a public school.
But Daimaru's gallery director is interested in more showings, and when Takeoka visited this year, she met King Intermediate's principal and spoke of her enthusiasm for future projects. Meanwhile, Noguchi's colleagues and friends are encouraging her to pursue government funding.
"I thought of talking to our state representative or maybe even the mayor," she says. "After all, this provides great exposure for Hawaii."