Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Artist Louis Pohl
dies at 84

A painter, teacher and mentor,
his life here was a tapestry of art

More obituaries

By Suzanne Tswei


Louis Pohl lived a life of art: painter, printmaker, art teacher, mentor to young artists, art program advocate, cartoonist, author, exhibit organizer, gallery owner -- he did them all.

After a career spanning more than 55 years in Hawaii, Pohl died of natural causes in his Nuuanu home Dec. 12 while watching "Touched by an Angel" on television. He was 84.

"He was an extremely intuition and insightful man, a very gentle man," said Carol Khewhok, director of Linekona Art Center, an art education facility that Pohl helped establish. "The thing that struck me about Louis' work is that it's ageless and timeless."

Pohl was a "wonderful mentor," said Greg Northrop, an art consultant who was a partner with Pohl of the Downtown Gallery the 1970s.

"He was very generous with me and many young artists. He really went out of his way to mentor young artists," Northrop said.

Pohl, a Cincinnati native, was 15 when he began studying art at the Cincinnati Art School with the help of scholarships and the patronage of a wealthy woman. The eldest of six children, Pohl had dropped out of high school during the Depression to work at a golf course, where he met his patron.

He enlisted in the Navy and first came to the islands as a seaman painting camouflage on warships at Pearl Harbor. He was injured when a destroyer caught fire and an explosion knocked him off a scaffold, and was discharged for medical reasons.

On his return to Cincinnati, Pohl began teaching art while studying art himself. He taught Saturday art classes to underprivileged children in exchange for his tuition for the last four years of art school.

After his return to Honolulu in 1945, Pohl taught art at the Honolulu Art Academy -- a professional art school that he helped found -- Kamehameha Schools, public schools, the Hilo campus of University of Hawaii and in his own studio.

In 1988, he was honored by Kapiolani Community College as an art educator.

The 1994 state Legislature recognized Pohl as a living treasure for his lifetime achievements.

The Honolulu Printmakers this year also honored him as a living treasure.

Through his career, Pohl helped establish exhibits, galleries, the Linekona Art Center and the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. In recent years, Pohl provided money for printing "Art Means Business" bumper stickers to support the arts, and helped organize the Art Calendar Hawaii's (ArCH) Database as a nonprofit agency to support the arts.

He also was a newspaper cartoonist and author of children's books that include "School Daze" and "It's Really Nice,"

Pohl is survived by wife, Sandra; daughter, Erika Moritsugu; brothers, Russell and Howard; and sisters, Alberta Murphy and Vivian Olsen.

A celebration of his life will be held 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 5 at the YWCA's Laniakea Center, 1040 Richard St. A short program and presentation is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

The family requests no flowers. Memorial gifts may be made to ArCH, P.O. Box 88228, Honolulu, 96830.

E-mail to City Desk

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