Kapiʻolani Community College’s Koa Gallery is open again after 1 1/2 years and is commemorating its reopening with eight exhibits from 1990-2000. This showcase will exhibit varied art from Hawaiʻi, Oceania and the Asia-Pacific region. 

“Koa Gallery 1990-2000: Selections from an ongoing exhibition history” reflects on eight moments in Koa Gallery’s early development. These exhibitions, celebrated with an opening-night event on Friday, are represented and are comprised of announcement cards, press releases, newspaper clippings, installation images, and other miscellaneous ephemera collected from the dossiers of former gallery directors Carol Langner (1987-1988), Kristen Moore (1989), Frank Sheriff (1989-1922), and David Behlke (1993-2018).

Drew Broderick, Koa Gallery’s new director, views his role here as one of care-taking.

“It’s a small gesture of acknowledgement to sort of recognize what has happened here, specifically what has happened here between 1990 and 2000,” he said during Friday’s opening exhibit. “It’s an attempt to kind of gain a certain guidance from the past and apply what’s happened here to future projects. … [T]he exhibitions, to me, represent some of them were significant moments in that decade, and they also represent a type of art that we don’t necessarily give this kind of space to enough.” 

One of the artists with a piece in the show is Kazu Kaulinana. Kaulinana is a Hawaiian artist that earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Hawai‘i in 1972 and his Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture from the University of Colorado in 1974. His piece, “Untitled (Snorkeler),” is a lamp that was created in 1990 and comes with a touching story.

 In 1979, Kaulinana moved to New York City for 13 years. Most of his work in NYC ranged from skating waiter, to sauté cook in a big restaurant, to making props and models for TV and film advertising. While in New York, Kaulinana met painter and photographer Ione Haney.

Haney was diagnosed with breast cancer and Kaulinana became her caregiver. The two wanted to visit Kona before deciding to move back to Hawai‘i from New York. While visiting, Haney wanted to swim in the ocean. The cancer had spread to her hip, and swimming was a way to alleviate the pain. While she was swimming, Kaulinana took photos of her with his underwater camera. He showed her the photos when they returned to New York, and she loved them. That trip is what inspired Kaulinana to make a lamp for her before she passed on. She loved looking at the lamp as a reminder of the trip. 

“That was pretty much my life, as her caregiver,” Kaulinana said. “It was very emotional.”  

Other artwork included in the exhibition are by Toshiko Takaezu, Kazu Kauinana, Hal Lum, Noe Tanigawa, Sean K.L. Browne, ‘Īmaikalani Kalāhele, Wright Bowman Sr., and Kaili Chun.

In the center of the gallery sits a canoe, Wa’a ‘Ekahi (After Hōkule’a), by Wright Bowman Sr. and Kaili Chun from 1994. (Photo by Jazmyne Pennington)

In the center of the gallery sits a canoe, Wa’a ‘Ekahi (After Hōkule’a), by Wright Bowman Sr. and Kaili Chun from 1994.

“Mr. Bowman was my mentor, my kumu, and while I was getting my MFA, Masters of Fine Arts degree at University of Hawai‘i Manoa, I asked Mr. Bowman if he would teach me and he agreed to do that and so I became his apprentice for the latter part of his years, until he died,” Chun said. “I was part of the Master of Apprentice show here at KCC, and it was an incredible educational experience unlike anything that you’d experience.”

Koa Gallery 1990-2000: Selections from an ongoing exhibition history” will be on display in the Koa Gallery until Dec. 21. Viewing times are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors wishing to view the gallery outside of that time may email the gallery at Free parking is available in lots A and B.

“I think we need to talk more often to artists that are part of older generations,” Broderick said. “We need to spend time listening to their stories, we need to record those stories, and we need to remember what has happened. I think a lot of times, younger artists, myself included, we have a tendency to not give the attention and the time to those that have come before us in a way that we should. So, I think that’s important for younger artists, connect with older artists and take guidance from them.”