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Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Monday, June 5, 2000

These kids have
been framed

WHEN you work in an historic building with a contemporary art gallery on the ground floor like at 605 Kapiolani Blvd., art appreciation can get a bit rote. But there's something unique this month at the Honolulu Advertiser Gallery -- a show that exudes both charming innocence and shocking maturity.

The artists are all Hawaii high school students, some of whom shyly basked in peer and adult adoration last night at the opening reception of "Art in the Real World," which runs through June 30.

Racing around like a mother hen was curator Christina Macias, who wrote letters to 53 island high schools soliciting entries for this first-of-its-kind showing at the gallery.

Mililani High graduate Milfer Araneta's mixed media of burnt newspapers and charcoal, titled "Help," depicts himself screaming to convey his pain and frustration from rheumatoid arthritis that still stiffens his knee.

Jess Kaneshiro of Kamehameha, 17, had almost two dozen ceramic pieces on display, including a 32-inch-high stoneware dubbed "Big Bertha" and "Plump Purple Teapot," with a handle of knotted reed.

Doting parents were everywhere. Aureo Vaquilar, a sophomore at McKinley, drew incredibly lifelike charcoals to the delight of his camera-wielding father, Leo, a former art teacher in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Frances Cho, 15, of Sacred Hearts Academy did the acrylic watercolor, "My Diary," to chronicle travels with her mom, Jeannie Kim, who paints under the name "Kimm."

On the other side of the room were Waianae High art teacher Christine Ho with two of her students: Bernard Alo, 16, who did a glass etching with a Samoan motif, and Rhome Keliiwaiwaiole, 14, whose Linocut print of a dragon took him a month to complete.

Quietly enjoying "Penguins in Love," a black scratchboard rendering by McKinley sophomore Crestita Saloma, were the artist and her boyfriend of eight months, junior Maury Agcoaili, who sweetly held hands.

Julie Yonehara, a St. Andrew's Priory senior, explained that her whimsical-looking aluminum wire sculpture of a human figure was called "Man/Woman" because it contained the body parts of both genders.

Photographers Jon Fujimori of Kalani and Stephen Ludwig of Mililani have an affinity for capturing the moment. Fujimori's bizarre cropping of his self-portrait, "Spying On Your Frustration," won him an award, as did Ludwig's selection of shots, which included soothing depictions of koi and a Molokai seascape.

IF Christina Macias was the mother hen of the reception, Ranceford Miyamoto was the night's crowing rooster. The metals and jewelry teacher, who has instructed at Farrington High for more than 20 years, excitedly showed off talents of his pupils.

Amazingly, they had constructed large, ornate necklaces called "body adornments" from recycled items like plastic coffee cup covers, wallpaper scraps, tin foil, bicycle tubing, scouring pads, cork coasters, poker chips and pantyhose.

"If anything, I try to teach these kids -- in this throw-away society -- to find whatever materials they can and make the best of them," said Miyamoto. "And also that, if you really want to do something, you can -- if you focus."

It's obvious that the photographers in this art show weren't the only ones focusing this school year. Come on down to 605 Kapiolani and see for yourself.

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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