Top-tier talent


POSTED: Sunday, December 06, 2009

In a world where “;classical art”; refers to painting, the medium of pastel is too often saddled with second-tier status. While pastel involves the use of pigments, just as painting does, the absence of a brush creates controversy over whether the medium qualifies as painting or drawing. At the crux of the debate is the implication that the former carries more weight than the latter.

“;Pastel falls between painting and drawing, but everything starts with drawing,”; said Snowden Hodges, longtime art professor at Windward Community College and a juror at this year's Pastel Artists of Hawaii 2009 Open Exhibition. Hodges has been an oil painter for almost 30 years.

“;I consider pastel to be painting because it uses pigments, but whether it's painting, pastel, sculpture or anything else, drawing is basic to it all. It pretty much starts there.”;





        On exhibit: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and until 2 p.m. Saturdays, through Dec. 25

Place: Mezzanine Gallery, Pauahi Tower at Bishop Square, 1001 Bishop St.


Call: 545-7500




Hodges' function at the exhibit was to decide on award winners. Alan Flattman of the Pastel Society of America juried the works for the show itself. Of 92 entries from 29 artists, Flattman selected 68 works by 26 artists.

Hodges says Flattman juried an “;excellent show—the range of subtleties showed pastel to its best advantage.”;

Works are indeed diverse in this exhibit that chair Candace Fenander deems “;the best ever.”; Abstracts mix with representational pieces; crisp, sharp works that take advantage of pastel's vibrant colors stand alongside those that convey subtlety and atmosphere with skilled glazing, or layering, of hues.

Fenander says the Pastel Artists of Hawaii's mission is to educate the public about pastel and its viability as an art medium.

“;Most people think of oils as the premiere medium,”; she said. “;But pastel is pure pigment. It provides vibrant color that's hard to get with other mediums, and there are a lot of different techniques you can use. It's a versatile medium.”;

Each year for its show, the group brings over a juror from the Pastel Society of America, a group comprising the finest pastel artists in the country. The community benefits from the visit with a workshop run by the visiting artist.

Local artist Gregory Pai, who began working in pastel only five years ago, has already become a signature member of the society. The fact that his work earned first place in this year's show is testament to his talent.

Hodges' colleague, Toni Martin, director of Gallery Iolani at the college, took Best in Show honors.

“;An exhibit like this one is strong enough to hold its own anywhere,”; Hodges said, in reference to the common attitude that work from Hawaii falls short of that from sophisticated cities such as New York. “;Some of the work is absolutely outstanding.”;