MERRIE MONARCH WEEK 2009: A Slice of The Goings On

17 04 2009

So many things happen in Hilo during Merrie Monarch week, aside from the Merrie Monarch hula competition itself. 

I will add new photos here every day throughout the Merrie Monarch Festival.

Icon of Hula, Uncle George Na‘ope

Hula Icon, Uncle George Na‘ope, outside Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Hula at Imiloa Astronomy Center

Kalimakuhilani Suganuma, Miss Aloha Hula 2008, at ‘Imiloa

Big Island Native Hawaiian Art Exhibition: Prince Kuhio Plaza

Big Island Native Hawaiian Art Exhibition - Prince Kuhio Plaza

Unukupukupu with kumu Taupori Tangaro at Naniloa Hotel

Unukupukupu with Kumu Hula Taupori Tangaro at Naniloa Hotel

Dr. Kalena Silva after his lecture at Imiloa

Dr. Kalena Silva after his lecture at ‘Imiloa

Lecture Audience at ‘Imiloa

Lecture Audience at ‘Imiloa

Kana‘e Keawe with his Drum

Kana‘e Keawe with his Drum "Namaka"

Audience Inspecting Hula Instruments at ‘Imiloa

Audience Inspecting Hula Implements at ‘Imiloa

Kumu Pua Crumb at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Kumu Hula Pua Crumb at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Hula at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Hula at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Hawaiian Craft Fair at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

Hawaiian Craft Fair at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

Hawe, Manu O Ku, Hawai‘i

Hawe, Manu O Ku, Hawai‘i

Hawaiian Art at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

Hawaiian Art at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

John "Keoni" Aweau Turalde: Fisherman, Paddler, Carver

John "Keoni" Aweau Turalde: Fisherman, Paddler, Carver

Unukupukupu, kumu Taupori Tangaro at Afook-Chinen Auditorium

Unukupukupu, Kumu Hulu Taupori Tangaro at Afook-Chinen Auditorium

Kumu Taupori Tangaro

Kumu Hula Taupori Tangaro

Halau Leo Nahenahe O Pohai Kealoha at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Halau Leo Nahenahe O Pohai Kealoha at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Kumu Stan Kaina and Friends

Kumu Hula Stan Kaina and Friends

Dwight Tokumoto: Steel Guitar Player

Dwight Tokumoto: Steel Guitar Player

Haulani, Pi‘ilani of Leo Nahenahe O Pohai Kealoha

Haulani, Pi‘ilani of Leo Nahenahe O Pohai Kealoha

Halau Hula O Hilo Hanakahi, kumu Pua Crumb at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Halau Hula O Hilo Hanakahi, Kumu Hula Pua Crumb at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Glenn Okuma: Coconut Weaver at Afook-Chinen Auditorium

Glenn Okuma: Coconut Weaver at Afook-Chinen Auditorium

Kumu Hula Manu Boyd Workshop at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

Kumu Hula Manu Boyd Workshop at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

Kumu Hula Manu Boyd Workshop at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

Kumu Hula Manu Boyd Workshop at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

Big Island Native Hawaiian Art Exhibition-Prince Kuhio Plaza

Big Island Native Hawaiian Art Exhibition-Prince Kuhio Plaza

Ke Ola Pono: Kumu Hula Rayce Bento at the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort

Dancer with Ke Ola Pono: Kumu Hula Rayce Bento at the Naniloa

Big Island Native Hawaiian Art Exhibition-Prince Kuhio Plaza

Big Island Native Hawaiian Art Exhibition-Prince Kuhio Plaza

Kumu Hula Paul Neves at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Kumu Hula Paul Neves at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Halau Ha‘a Kea ‘O Akala, kumu Paul Neves at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Halau Ha‘a Kea ‘O Akala, Kumu Hula Paul Neves at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Halau Ha‘a Kea ‘O Akala: Kumu Hula Paul Neves

Halau Ha‘a Kea ‘O Akala - Kumu Hula Paul Neves: Hilo, Hawai‘i

He Kane Holo Lio: Merrie Monarch Parade

He Kane Holo Lio: Merrie Monarch Parade

Na Wahine Holo Pa‘u: Merrie Monarch parade

Na Wahine Holo Pa‘u: Merrie Monarch parade

Halau Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani - Kumu Hula Rae K. Fonseca

Halau Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani - Kumu Hula Rae K. Fonseca: Hilo, Hawai‘i

Halau Na Mamo O Ka‘ala - Tiare Noelani Chang

Halau Na Mamo O Ka‘ala - Kumu Hula Tiare Noelani Chang: Wai‘anae, O‘ahu

 Macario:

All in all, it was a great week. We caught up with friends and relatives not seen for awhile, visited with our hula brothers and sisters and watched performances all over town. Seeing the culture alive and well in hula, music, art and parades is so satisfying. There’s nothing more to say.                            PAU





2400 FAHRENHEIT – The Art of Glass

14 04 2009
#9

Nightscape Vase

“You know what’s amazing?” says Michael Mortara. “Everybody’s got a drinking cup, but maybe only one out of a thousand, or maybe it’s only one out of 10,000, has seen it being made. You’ve got glass blowing, woodworking and ceramics, the three fundamentals of functional craft, and it’s shocking how many people have never seen it done. We certainly all depend on these things.

“We decided because so few people have seen it done, it was a really easy thing to do to share it by opening up our studio.”

He built the glass blowing studio and gallery where he and his wife Misato Mortara, both artists and glass blowers, work in Volcano Village.

Nightscape Bowl

Nightscape Bowl

They chose beautiful Volcano, site of some other seriously molten glass materials, partly because Michael had spent a lot of time there as a child. “We would stay up at my uncle’s place on Wright Road,” he says, “and I really liked it.

“Also, my uncle had a fireplace, and I loved fires. Glass blowing; playing with fire. I was always fascinated with fire when I was a little kid.”

The Team: Misato, Micheal and Evan

The Team: Misato, Michael and Evan

He talks about the power of fire. “When you have fire, you’ve got heat, you can survive in the cold, you can cook your food. It gives you a certain amount of independence from nature. If you know how to make fire you’re halfway there. It’s a real primal kind of human thing.”

#10

Rainforest Series

#7-#4

Nightscape Platter

Michael first got involved with glass blowing when he was a high school student at Punahou School in Honolulu, and Misato at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, where she too was learning about glass blowing and where the two met.

Misato, Micheal

Misato, Michael

Many years ago, when both Michael and Misato had jobs come to an end, they consciously made the decision to start blowing glass professionally. “We thought about, ‘What did we want to do next?’” he says. “It’s like your destiny. Who do you want to be in control of your destiny?”

Green Terarium

Habitat Series

Amber Terarium

Habitat Series

Artists have been blowing glass since Roman times.

“I think people are impressed because when they think about a craftsperson, or an artist,” says Michael, “they think about someone sitting by themselves in a studio creating their art. But at our studio they see a team of people working together and creating their work. You can have this extremely well-coordinated group of people that doesn’t say a lot to each other, but everyone knows their job and works together very well.”

“It’s the drama of taking a liquid and turning it into a solid,” he says. “The choreography of a team working together to produce a product.”

Micheal and Evan Working

Michael and Evan Working

Photo Courtesy 2400 Fahrenheit

Photo: Courtesy 2400 FAHRENHEIT

The Gallery at 2400 Fahrenheit

The Gallery at 2400 Fahrenheit

Rhapsody 3

Mirage Series

He and Misato each have exhibits coming up at Hilo’s Wailoa Center in May; his work as part of a show upstairs, and hers as part of one downstairs. “I’m working on some new pieces for it,” he says. “It’s not something you’d see at our studio. I’m building a house right now, and so I’m doing something for the show with nails and wood and glass.”

“The show will be a departure for both of us.”

Mortara 8

Supercooled Liquid

Micheal and Evan: The Spinning Stage

Michael and Evan: The Spinning Stage

He says their work continues to evolve and change. “Personally, I’m working in a much larger, more sculptural aspect now. It’s larger, more expensive, all solid, cut and polished; much more labor intensive and introspective.”

Image 2967

Hulu Series

Img 693

Michael Opening A Platter

Mortara 1

Arrangement From The Rainforest

Macario on the Mortaras:

Glass blowing is a pretty intense process, and it takes a long time to get good at it. The team at 2400 Fahrenheit is really good at what they do. There’s just a lot of talent there.

They have been doing this for a long, long time and their art is at a really high level. You can tell by picking up a piece. You can tell by the feel of it and the weight. The walls are thin, but it’s balanced. It’s pretty fabulous stuff, actually.

They work hard at it, and then they come back the next day and they work hard at it again. And they’ve done that since they started.

When people are there, there’s conversation and communication and you can just tell that they really love what they do. I noticed that Michael really loves showing kids how to make glass. While I was there photographing, they had just finished a piece and were taking a break. These people came in that had been in earlier and were trying to catch them blowing glass.

Michael said, “Oh, you came back. You know what I’ll do? I’ll make a bubble.” He got just enough glass so he could show those kids how to make a bubble.

Misato’s quiet, so you don’t always know how much she contributes, but when you see her pieces they’re quite complicated. Michael told me one time, “Misato’s always got to make stuff hard; challenging.” She’s the one that does all these swirly things with the glass.

They actually make a terrarium, and they make the trees in the terrariums and the spiders and the bugs. It’s just as precise as you can get. You know they’ve spent quite a bit of time figuring that stuff out.

Evan Jenkins is also part of the team. A glass blower in his own right, he’s been with the Mortaras since they started 2400 Fahrenheit. The three of them work together seamlessly.

Those guys are like worker bees. They don’t spout about art, they just DO art. They don’t talk too much about what they do. I mean, they’ll talk with people about the process, how to get this effect or that effect, but they don’t have to talk about their art. People see it.

I have a whole lot of respect for people that are dedicated to their art and what they do. Michael and Misato hold a really high standard. You can see it.

______________________________________________

Michael Mortara: “We’re blowing glass in a way that’s been done for 500-600 years. We’ve got computers for the ovens, and electricity, but to tell you the truth, if you were a glass blower in the Renaissance time, you could come into our studio and do your thing. You would pick up a blowtorch, you’d know how to get glass out of the furnace, and you’d know the tools. It’s essentially unchanged.”            PAU

                                                      Photos by Macario
                                 Visit Fahrenheit 2400 at http://www.2400f.com




GORDON LEE: LIVING WITH CLAY

8 03 2009

You know, I can look at photography, or ceramics, and I can pretty much see exactly where a person is. Whether they’re just starting, in the middle, towards the end, at the height of their careers. You just see those levels when you’ve been doing stuff as long as I have. You can just see it.

      Pipe Connector  17" X 5"       

Pipe Connector 17" X 5"

When I saw Gordon’s stuff, I said, “Whoa.” He’s a master at what he does.

#1 Bowl  9" X 15.5"

#1 Bowl 9" X 15.5"

It’s good to be around masters. It’s good to be around somebody who’s better than you. It makes you think about what it is you’re doing in your own art.

When I was playing music, one of the things my mentors kept telling me was to keep playing with people better than me. You’ve got to keep working with people better than you are. It’s the same thing with photography. And ceramics.

You can hang out with all the other experts for five years. But you hang out with Gordon Lee, or Toshiko Takaezu, or Paul Soldner for three weeks, and I guarantee your life is going to change. If you don’t change, you weren’t paying attention.

#2 Bowl  8"

#2 Bowl 8"

You know, all these art critics and gallery people, whenever they see your work they want some kind of statement about it. They want you to describe it, and write some kind of a statement, and explain it.

Gordon doesn’t need a statement. His life is his statement. You go to his house and you look at all those pieces and you just go “Wow.”

Doughnut Vessel  29" X 6.5", Raku Vessel  12" X 4.5"

Doughnut Vessel 29" X 6.5", Raku Vessel 12" X 4.5"

You don’t know what to expect. Here’s this ceramicist that’s just been quietly working all these years and has taught hundreds of students. You think he’ll have bowls and that kind of thing. Then you go to his house and there’s all kinds of shapes, all kinds of sizes, it’s like, “Wow!” All kinds of things. You don’t know a scope of a man’s work until you see it.

He makes clay fishponds. They’re on pedestals; they’re what, 24 inches across. They’re really nice in the yard. Really cool. I’ve never seen one before, and I’ve seen a lot of clay. I’ve never seen a clay fishpond.

Gordon's Ceramic Fishponds  12" X 24"

Gordon's Ceramic Fishponds 12" X 24"

Lotus Vessel  29" X 21"

Lotus Vessel 29" X 21"

Then there’s the bell. He’s making clay bells. The bells are at least 29 inches tall. They’re not done yet but we’ll see how they come out. They’re quite big. He needs an engine lift to put it in the kiln. It’s huge; you can’t physically pick it up. He said he was just driven to make one. Said he’s had the idea for the longest time and finally got around to doing it. It’s like a temple bell.

We walked around his yard and I saw pieces and I said, “What is that,” and he’d say, “Oh, yeah, I make those.” He has this one that’s an 8-legged animal with a hexagon body. They’re kind of like little puppies around his yard. They’re just around. They’re pretty cool.

Hex-Octagonimal  11" X 15"

Hex-Octagonimal 11" X 15"

Gordon working at Shannon's studio

Gordon working at Shannon Hickey's studio

Teapot  9" X 7"

Teapot 9" X 7"

Vessel  29" X 24"

Vessel 29" X 24"

He’s so humble. He’s up there, man. It’s not often you meet somebody like that. I’ve been in the fine art community since the 70s. I think I can probably name you on one hand the artists I’ve met that have had kind of a profound effect on me, on my life. I mean, there’s always something to learn, and you can learn from somebody who’s beginning or wherever they are in their career. But the life-changing ones – you don’t meet them too often.

Plus he’s kind of fun to hang out with. We had a good time when we were photographing his stuff. Just talking, trying this, trying that. And we know a lot of the same people in clay.

I thought I was just going to go over and shoot the stuff and get out. But we were just there hanging out, he made lunch, and then we went back and shot some more stuff. We got along really well. ~ Macario                               PAU

Gordon Lee, Teacher, Artist

Gordon Lee, Teacher, Artist

Gordon Lee was born in Nome, Alaska, where his grandfather had settled long before to mine for gold. From age 8 through high school, he lived on Bainbridge Island, Washington. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Philosophy, then earned a teaching certificate and taught elementary school in Boise.

In the early 1970s he enrolled at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, where he earned his MFA. He also taught ceramics at the YWCA in Honolulu.

After graduating, he moved to Hilo where for more than 30 years he taught ceramics at Hawai‘i Community College and through the Continuing Education program. He retired in 2004 and then taught as a lecturer for another year-and-a-half before leaving teaching completely to enjoy some home improvement projects and work in his home ceramics studio.

Q. What would you say to someone who is interested in seriously pursuing ceramics today?

A. Oh, the economy is so different now from what it was when I started. The cost of fuel is unbelievable compared to then. And the cost of clay—even just shipping it has become so expensive. I think it’s a different attitude now. You have to look at it, at the project differently, and take some cautions at what you get into.

But if a person is enthused about ceramics, I’d say, “Just go for it.” Go after it. You’d have to face – it’s almost a jeopardy – the cost of things.

But it’s worth it. It’s something that can be done, even with the cost. The excitement about ceramics is worth it.

See Gordon Lee’s art at:
High Fire Hawaii
114 Haili Street
Hilo Hawai‘i 96720
808 935-8380








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