Oil on Wood Panel
When I was four years old my family left our home, in Alaska, to move back to Southern California. On our way we made a stop in Hawaii. Being so tiny I can't say I remember the whole visit but there are a few things emblazoned on my brain.
I remember the smell of plumeria, men twirling "sticks that were on fire" and my sister and I dressed in little muumuus. I also have a vague recollection of feeling warm both in and out of the water without having to wear a snow suit! What I do have a very clear memory of was kneeling over a pond filled with huge brightly colored "gold fish."
Mokoli'i, otherwise known as Chinaman's Hat, on our way to the Byodo-In Temple ...
When I was thinking about what to paint for my last solo show "Through Time and Place: Five Decades" I thought of places that imprinted themselves on me and had made a big impression. Some of those places even changed me. Hawaii made an impression on me at 4 and then in my late 20s when I went back for one of my best friend's weddings. I went back again after she had her first baby.
Now, 16 years later, I had a boyfriend on O'ahu. Hawaii was and is a place filled with incredible memories! Of course, it's beautiful there but there's also something that feels mystical about it. I find it hard to explain. I ended up doing two paintings representing the islands. One piece was the koi fish in the at the top of this post. The other was of a plumeria, one of my favorite scents on the planet!
Like I always do, before going to Hawaii for Christmas of 2017, I did my research! I looked up things to do and see on O'ahu and one that came up on all sorts of travel articles and YouTube videos was the Byodo-In Temple. It's a "non-practicing" Buddhist temple which welcomes people of all faiths. It really is a perfect place to meditate, pray, enjoy the incredible walking garden and just enjoy a bit of Japanese culture in Hawaii.
The temple is at the foot of the Ko'olau Mountains in Kaneohe. It's a wonderful replica of a 950 year old Buddhist place of worship in Kyoto, Japan. It was built for the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants in 1968, which also happens to be the year I was born!
It also has hundreds of very healthy looking koi fish ready for a photo op! I took so many pictures and definitely felt a painting coming on!
Perfect models for my painting! Although, I'm pretty sure they were thinking they were going to get fed!
Valley of the Temples Memorial Park is located on the windward (eastern) side of the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu at the foot of the Koʻolau mountains, near the town of Kāneʻohe.
This golden Amida Buddha (Amitābha) is thought to be the largest figure carved outside of Japan. The 9 foot Buddha was carved by the Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui. "Amida Buddha" is one of the five "Wisdom Buddhas." Amitāyus means "Infinite Life" so Amitābha is also called "The Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life" is the principal Buddha in a branch of East Asian Buddhism called Pure Land Buddhism which is part of the larger Mahayana Buddhism.
"There is no place where the moonlight fails to grace,
but it only abides in and purifies the hearts of those who gaze upon its face."
Buddhist monk and teacher of Pure Land Buddhism
I think I definitely need to paint the temple!
After the temple, we headed down to Waikiki. It's definitely packed with tourists, hotels and traffic but it also makes for some beautiful photos, wonderful memories and great people watching. My mom lived there in her early 20's working at one of the hotels and even sung with Don Ho! I was there with my girlfriends at the famous Hawaiian Hilton with the big rainbow on the side, for our friend Beckie's wedding 30 years later. It's fun to go back and revisit places that inhabit wonderful memories.
This next photo is the Makua and Kila Sculpture based on a children's story by Fred Van Dyke. It honors "Hawaiian values of love and respect for Ohana (family) and the ocean."
The photo below is from O'ahu in 1996 for Beckie and Shaun's wedding. The bride is on one knee in the middle and I'm next to her in blue.
Dad was taking the picture. Maybe my colorful little muumuu is the reason why I still love a red and bright pink color combo!
Blessing, Light and Aloha!