Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, August 3, 2000

"Life and other Distractions" by Masako Nitz.

Distractions part
of life and art
for Masako Nitz

The artist is on track with
an exhibit at Hawaii Pacific
University gallery

By Suzanne Tswei

THE cat hair in Masako Nitz's painting is entirely unintentional. It came from her black cat, Dax, the girl cat of the family and sweetheart of the male cat Worf. The two felines, named after "Star Trek" characters, were regular visitors to Nitz's cramped studio while she was preparing for her first one-woman exhibit, which opens Sunday afternoon at the Hawaii Pacific University Art Gallery.

"Talk about things going wrong the last minute. I put the painting face down to hang the wire on the back. The paint wasn't dry yet but I didn't know that. When I turned it over, I saw there was all this black cat hair stuck to it," Nitz said.

It couldn't have been more unfortunate. Nitz, who had been working with dark monochromatic palettes of grays and browns, had chosen lighter and brighter colors for this show, and one painting, titled "Frustration," is done in mostly white and muted pale tones.

"Guess which painting the black cat hair got onto? Talk about frustration," Nitz said.

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Masako Nitz's one-woman show, "Life and other Distractions,"
opens Sunday at Hawaii Pacific University gallery. It's also
the title of the autobiographical work shown in detail above.

She had to pry the cat hair off the sticky oil paint, one tiny hair at a time, with a bristle brush. The cat hair is almost all gone; what remains is barely visible.

"There wasn't anything else coming close to a disaster like this, but this is what it's been like, one thing after another," Masako said of the intense five months she spent painting for the exhibit.

"People think being an artist is romantic. It's not, definitely not. It's hard working for yourself. There are all these distractions you have to deal with," Nitz said.

Which brings us to the impressive 5-foot-by-6-foot painting, "Life and Other Distractions," that gave her show its theme.

The painting is autobiographical, although the woman in the painting bears no physical resemblance to Nitz. The woman, with knotted eyebrows, is juggling a fish, bird, red hibiscus and chisel, while a man is sneaking up from behind to tap her on the shoulder.

"Don't you think that's how life is? Juggling all these impossible things and then somebody comes up to get your attention when you are concentrating on keeping all these things in the air. That's how my life has been -- distractions," Nitz said.

After returning home from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a master of fine arts degree three years ago, Nitz allowed things other than art to enter her life.

"Like getting a job to make some money to pay bills, and figuring out what I wanted to do," Nitz said.

She took a job at a frame shop, and worked there only eight months when it went out of business. She took up furniture making, an avocation she inherited from her father, Lawrence Nitz, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii. Then earlier this year she began to concentrate on paintings for the exhibit.

"I find everything in life is a distraction. Life itself can be considered a distraction. When I was concentrating on painting, eating and sleeping were distractions," Nitz explained.

But diversions aren't always bad. The family cats are constant pests when she tries to work, but they are also her muses. The cats, which appear often in her work, are included in the title painting in the exhibit.

"I am a very self-indulgent person. I let things distract me. I think it's healthy to get away from what you are doing once in a while."

Now that she's done putting together the exhibit, Nitz is determined to stay on the course she's on.

"None of my friends have seen these paintings. I don't know what they are going to say, but I am not going to let what they say distract me."

On exhibit

Bullet What: "Life and Other Distractions," works by Masako Nitz
Bullet Where: Hawaii Pacific University Art Gallery, 45-045 Kamehameha Hwy.
Bullet When: Opening reception 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Show runs 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays through Sept. 29
Bullet Admission: Free
Bullet Call: 544-0287

Do It Electric
Click for online
calendars and events.

E-mail to Features Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin