Charles E Higa, watercolorist

The Hawaii Watercolor Society Members Juried Show opened on April 4th and runs through the 30th at the Downtown Arts Center (DAC) in Chinatown Honolulu Hawaii. The Hawaii Watercolor Society was founded by Hon Chew Hee who also founded other artists’ groups, such as the Pastel Society. I was honored to receive the Charles E. Higa award for my painting Anchor this year. The show also featured a video and artwork by Charlie in the show. It felt so wonderful to be hanging in the same space with Charlie!

thinking of charlie's legacy

Charles was a watercolorist and ceramicist. Many today know him as a ceramicist and his partner Peter Drewliner has kept his legacy alive with his foundation which gives awards like this one. I met Charlie as a teenager, he was a good friend of my teachers and now that I am teaching kupuna it has been fun to meet some who knew Charlie when he was a teacher. He was a fun and sometimes rascally guy and always passionate and supportive when it came to keiki–teaching and passing on his love of making.

The feeling it gave me when he looked at my work and shared his comments were that of one artist to another, even though I was just a kid. That was Charlie. He was also very passionate about those who didn’t really love watercolor or know how to paint it. Passion can sometimes burst out in joyful exclamations and sometimes in angry indignation. It is because we love it so much that we care. Looking at his paintings I can see the thought, patience, determination and focus that went into all the layers of his color field paintings and connecting with his his Okinawan heritage. Anchor was the largest plein air I’d attempted to date of my beloved Ko’olau mountains. I painted it on the hood of my Honda CRV in the parking lot of the Anchor Church in Kaneohe.