An artful holiday gesture
POSTED: Monday, December 22, 2008
Newspaper editors know that for every 100 people writing letters, a very large percentage are citizens who are worked up about something. Almost all of them, in fact. Few people have anything pleasant to opine about, and a paper's op-ed pages are a convenient place to blow off steam.
For Fincher's original letter
And so, in early October, Star-Bulletin letters editor Nancy Christenson was quite happy to run a cheerful note from Olga Venedictovna Goodwin Fincher of Tampa, Fla., praising the wonderfulness of Hawaii—"this most magical place in the world."
Fincher, a Russian emigre who first glimpsed Hawaii in 1947 while shuttling from war-torn Shanghai, said she thought she "had died and arrived in heaven. ... God has truly blessed and saved Hawaii as his most beautiful masterpiece. Hawaii no ka oi!" She married a Navy man who was transferred here in 1962, grew a family and developed lifelong friends in the islands. The Finchers were visiting friends on the Big island. "Can't wait to smell the flowers, look for the rainbows, the velvet mountains and the spectacular sunsets," wrote Fincher.
Never underestimate the power of words—and of good vibes. Fincher's letter struck a Christmas bell in the heart of Richard Omori, a retired Outrigger Hotels worker and a passionate painter. Omori asked to be put in contact with Fincher because he wanted to paint her a picture of Hawaii as a Christmas present. Keep in mind, Omori and Fincher don't know each other at all. It was the joy in Fincher's letter that stirred Omori.
"When I was young, I enjoyed lovely things like paintings," said Omori, 80, a rather shy fellow who will, nonetheless, at the drop of a hat, show you a carful of paintings, ranging from impressionistic landscapes to photo-realistic portraits. "My dad used to paint, and showed me how to do sketches."
Omori uses both oils—"blends better"—and acrylics—"dries very fast"—and considers seascapes and sunsets his oeuvre. He was a regular in Outrigger Hotels employee art shows, painted an enormous underwater mural for an Outrigger beachside snack shop and a few years ago painted another mural at Nuuanu Elementary School.
"I've painted it all!" he says, chuckling. "Birds, seascapes, Christmas scenes, flowers—I've even painted walls."
Fincher selected a seascape, Omori's specialty, and they'll rendezvous at the airport when the Finchers return home to save on postage and boxing costs.
With all that's going on in the world, this simple act of generosity would generally go unnoticed. The question, of course, is, why?
Omori thought for a moment.
"She's someone who appreciates Hawaii the way I do. This time of year, we need to share what's in our hearts."