Paul Nagano didn't get a degree when he studied art in Philadelphia and he's glad he didn't.
"I might have started teaching and stopped painting" he said.
The Honolulu-born artist is showing his watercolors this week at Baik Designs, which carries Indonesian furnishings and art objects. The setting is appropriate for Nagano's exhibit, called "SymBALIst and Other BALI Views." A Punahou School graduate, Nagano, 62, received a degree in English literature at Columbia University in New York before turning to art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He studied there for four years but did not complete a degree.
"It would have been easy to settle into teaching" if he had, Nagano said.
Instead he devoted himself to painting, traveling to Europe often from his home in Boston. He turned to Indonesia on a suggestion of an admirer.
"When in Boston, I met a man from Jakarta ... who liked my work. He thought I should paint in his favorite place -- in Bali," Nagano recalled. The man arranged housing in Bali for Nagano, and the artist has been going there to paint now for more than 16 years.
Bali is rich in culture and its people revel in old rituals that survive despite "rampant tourism -- it's just like in Hawaii," Nagano said.
His work reflects the density of Balinese art, he said. "In Bali, less is not more. Things are filled with details. There, they decorate everything for the gods," he said, but art is viewed as a commonality. "It's not for putting in museums."
So he's glad his exhibit will be in a design store.
"It seems more like a home," Nagano said. "It won't be sterile like a museum."
Cynthia Oi, Star-Bulletin
What: "SymBALIst and Other BALI Views," an exhibit of watercolors by Paul Nagano
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Saturday
Where: Baik Designs, Gentry Pacific Center
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