Chaminade art teacher designed school chapel
Brother James Roberts / 1931-2007
The artistic legacy of Brother James Roberts is visible at Chaminade University in the contemporary glass-walled campus chapel and the portraits, landscapes and abstract art in offices and residences.
Roberts, 75, established the art department at the Catholic university in 1962 and designed the Mystical Rose Oratory. He was a member of the Society of Mary religious order for 52 years.
He died Thursday in Cupertino, Calif.
"It was part of his spiritual makeup that he painted," said Brother Gary Morris, associate professor of English and performing arts. "He was very creative in his art style; he painted portraits, abstracts, Hawaiian flora."
The artist worked for several years at Reardon High School in San Francisco. He taught simple film animation and designed theater sets for programs in San Francisco and Hawaii, most recently for the 2005 Chaminade production of "Godspell."
Roberts collaborated on murals with the late Jean Charlot and in stained-glass design with Erica Karawina, said Albert Lum, retired English professor.
"His major accomplishment was the Mystical Rose chapel," said Lum. "He designed the abstract stained glass" and other features such as the 13 columns to represent Christ and his apostles.
Before moving to a Cupertino retirement home in 2005, he had an art studio on the Kaimuki campus for 14 years.
"He mentored and worked individually with art students," Morris said. Roberts "would price things reasonably. If someone liked something he did, he'd give it to him."
Roberts was born in Los Angeles. He joined the Marianist order after serving for four years in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from St. Mary's College and earned an art degree from Immaculate Heart College in San Francisco.
He has no known survivors except the Marianist community, according to a Chaminade spokeswoman.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Mystical Rose Oratory, 3140 Waialae Ave.