Suzanne Tswei

Local Color
Sunday, December 9, 2001


"Souvenir" (2000), above, documents doggie love in a Paris shop.

Capturing life through a
lens in flagrante delicto

Don't get excited. The photograph above isn't doggie pornography; it's art. More precisely, art in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the famed French photographer whose capture-the-moment photorealism set the standard for modern photography.

Photographer Linda Hosek took "Streetcar Secrets" in New Orleans last year.

"A velvet hand, a hawk's eye -- these we should all have," the shy and intense Frenchman preached. "If the shutter was released at the decisive moment, you have instinctively fixed a geometric pattern without which the photograph would have been both formless and lifeless."

In this case, the geometric pattern -- a black poodle on a white Scottie, who looks rather bored, if we may add -- is without doubt distinctive and lively. And funny, too.

"It's the one photograph that has gotten the most attention," said the artist, Linda Hosek, a television journalist at KHNL News8. Her colleagues at the station were most amused.

Hosek, whose interest in photography began 30 years ago, was amused, too, when she ran into the dogs in a small souvenir shop in Paris last spring.

"Public Places ... Private Moments"

Place: Hawaii Pacific University Art Gallery, 45-045 Kamehameha Hwy.
Time: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, through Jan. 25
Admission: Free
Call: 544-0287

"I literally tripped over them. It was at the end of the day, and I was in a hurry. I went into the shop to buy a postcard, and on the way out I stumbled over the dogs.

"If you've been to Paris, you know dogs have the run of the place. But in a shop doing what they were doing? I thought, 'This is too good,'" Hosek recalled. A shop sign proclaiming the premise to be under video surveillance was the icing on the cake.

Hosek makes a portrait of a bed and breakfast owner and her retired policeman husband in St. Bartelemy, Avignon, France.

Happily, Hosek's stumbling did not disturb the dogs, giving her ample time to exercise her artistic skills. She took out her trusty Leica camera and snapped three shots, one of which captured the female's nonchalant expression, and that's the one she chose to include in her one-woman exhibit at Hawaii Pacific University in Kaneohe.

Hosek's brother and sister-in-law work on their computers in "Intimacy" (2000).

"The photograph isn't just about two dogs doing their thing. Two dogs getting cozy in a field is basic animal behavior, but it takes on a human dimension when they are in a souvenir shop," she said.

The doggie picture is the instant reflection of the exhibit's theme, "Public Places ... Private Moments," which consists of black-and-white photographs taken in Hawaii and during Hosek's trip to Paris and the mainland. The exhibit runs through Jan. 25.

Having a private moment in a public place is something everyone can relate to, Hosek said. And it is a subject well suited to her interest in documentary photography. She travels everywhere with her Leicas, always a passive but omniscient observer prepared to capture her subject at the precise moment.

Hosek works professionally as a journalist, having written for the Star-Bulletin for 12 years before joining the news team at KHNL. But she has always been a serious photographer on her own time, and her work has been exhibited in numerous shows.

"I love taking pictures. I feel alive when I take pictures. You are absorbing every molecule of that moment," said Hosek, who prefers spontaneity to set-up shots.

"Proximity," taken in New Orleans.

The moments can be quiet, such as her brother and sister-in-law on a Sunday morning, both working on their laptop computers next to a sunny window. The moments can be action packed, such as a man leaping on the streets of Paris with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop.

This exhibit may be Hosek's last show in Hawaii. Her contract at KHNL concludes in December, and she is planning to move to Washington, D.C., to pursue her interest in video documentaries.

Koa Gallery at Kapiolani Community College is calling Hawaii artists of all ages to create work in response to the events of Sept. 11 and the continuing aftermath for a juried exhibit next year.

"9-11, Response and Remembrance" is scheduled to open Jan. 15. It will be held in Koa Gallery and the college's Lama Library and run through Feb. 9.

Entries are limited to two per artist, with a $5 entry fee for each work. Entries by students in high school and lower schools are free, but their teachers must submit the work.

Oahu artists may drop off their entries 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 9 and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Jan. 10. Neighbor island artists must pay for shipping to and from the gallery, and entries must arrive by Jan. 8.

The jurors are Georgianna Lagoria, director of the Contemporary Museum, and Greg Northrup, art consultant. Call 734-9375.

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Suzanne Tswei's art column runs Sundays in Today.
You can write her at the Star-Bulletin,
500 Ala Moana, Suite 7-210, Honolulu, HI, 96813
or email

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