Repaint, Repurpose, Reconstruct

Moonlight at Kailua Beach January 2023

Art at Mark’s Garage is under new leadership with a vision to create a space where all feel welcomed, artist-makers, collectors, art lovers, tourists, locals, the curious, the creative, the shopper or bar hopper. This exhibit shows the response of local artists to rummage through and review our work, and find some that we can take in a new direction, or salvage from the discard and recycle pile.

I chose to repaint 2 plein air paintings done at Kailua when I first moved back home in 2014. It was a good study of the composition, scenes, textures, etc but overall lacked value distribution and a story. It was a study. So I looked up the night sky the evening I sat down to paint this one, Moonlight in Kailua, on my Stellarium app and painted over the mid-value study and added constellations rising in the 8pm sky. The other painting was from my memories accumulated of the past 7 years of sunrises I’ve been blessed to see because, as an adult and no work schedule to hinder me, I have seen more sunrises in the past 7 years than the past 50. So, was the birth of Sunrise at Kailua (below)

Sunrise at the Mokes at Kailua

The third piece I have on view in the show addressed the challenge of REPURPOSE and I selected an old matsuri fan from some obon or other festival maybe from the Japanese Cultural Center, maybe from Makawao Hongwanji, who knows–we have bunches of them, faded, forgotten, but no one wants to just toss a memory away. As a teacher of watercolor, I encourage my students to go through their discard stacks and see if they can make one small change to complete it, a drastic but decisive action to change and transform it (as in REPAINT), or, literally tear it up and REPURPOSE it into a new piece, a collage of an entirely different story and purpose. I took my favorite monogatari as a child, Kaguyahime, and tore up about 8 pieces to create a new fan, I’d be proud to take to the next matsuri. The fan shows the princess on one side on perhaps her last morning on Earth and the other side shows the Emperor vainly trying to stop her return to the moon.

Kaguyahime front side of REPURPOSED fan

Lastly, the challenge to look at our work and RECONSTRUCT it came in the answer of reading David Sedaris‘ essay Let it Snow. Having lived in Sweden long enough to think of it also as home, I miss the winters on one level. His story about children living with an alcoholic mother thrown out into the cold resonated on a certain emotional level of the impossible and impractical longings of Kaguyahime, and loving both Sweden and Hawai’i as home, so I created a children’s book popup spread with parts of the the essay set in tropical Hawai’i. The mom’s loafer, the sister’s yellow coat, the snowballs, wine and coffee are all there, along with the Easter eggs of longing his youngest clung to.

Finally, this show was a great way to start the new year–sorting through the debris and material collected and created of the past, taking stock, finding new purpose or satisfaction in it, and then moving on. I feel a bit lighter and future facing by this exercise and it affirmed my conviction to continue to encourage my students and fellow artists to keep ourselves light, not too serious, playful and curious, and above all, compassionate and forgiving so we can continue to move towards the light of the new day and the next year.