Category Archives: Art

Required reading?

One interesting answer was set out in a New York Times column on Sunday, “Why You Should Read Books You Hate.”

It appears to have had an earlier title: “The joy of hate reading.”

Here’s the key paragraph:

…reading what you hate helps you refine what it is you value, whether it’s a style, a story line or an argument. Because books are long-form, they require more of the writer and the reader than a talk show or Facebook link. You can finish watching a movie in two hours and forget about it; not so a novel. Sticking it out for 300 pages means immersing yourself in another person’s world and discovering how it feels. That’s part of what makes books you despise so hard to dismiss. Rather than toss the book aside, turn to the next page and wrestle with its ideas. What about them makes you so uncomfortable?

And more:

It was only by burrowing through books that I hated, books that provoked feelings of outrage and indignation, that I truly learned how to read. Defensiveness makes you a better reader, a closer, more skeptical reader: a critic. Arguing with the author in your head forces you to gather opposing evidence. You may find yourself turning to other texts with determination, stowing away facts, fighting against the book at hand. You may find yourself developing a point of view.

The reader comments are also interesting. Many are in agreement. Others argue that with so many great books still unread, why waste your time on ones that you end up hating?

Sticking to reading through books you hate requires the luxury of time, which most of us don’t really have these days.

Another readers laments: “Unfortunately for most Americans you can stop with “Why you should read books…””

In any case, it’s a good read and a good argument to have.

Don’t miss: Ceramics of Hawaii

First statewide showYou really shouldn’t miss this show. As the sign says, it’s the first statewide juried show featuring ceramics made by Hawaii artists, a project spearheaded by the Hawaii Potters’ Guild.

The exhibit is at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (the old Linekona School, on the corner of Beretania and Victoria Street, next to Thomas Square) through January 8.

There’s a lot of creativity and skill on display. Lots of beautiful pieces, many displaying delightful humor. If you’re at all interested in ceramics, don’t miss this. Seriously.

The show was juried by David Karaoke, Emeritus Professor at San Francisco State University, who is credited with launching Hawaii Craftsmen’s Raku Ho’olaule’a, “held annually for 40 years.”

According to the program, he was named one of Hawaii’s Living Treasures in 1987.

Below, Meda with our friend, Vicky Chock, and her piece which is included in the show, titled, “The Magician.”

Vicky Chock

An evening at the Elks in Waikiki

Bobby Moderow and Maunalua, the award-winning Hawaiian group, were scheduled to play last evening in the lounge at Elks Lodge 616 on Waikiki Beach.

We arrived with friends before the 6 p.m. start, ordered drinks and something to eat, and settled in for the show.

Then came the bad news, followed by the good news.

The Bad: They couldn’t get the sound system working. And after a half hour or so, the musicians started dismantling and packing up their microphones and cables.

The Good News: Then Moderow announced they would be coming down from the stage, pulling up a few chairs, and going ahead with an all-acoustic program. The Elks is already an intimate space, and this made it almost an in-your-living-room experience.

Here are a few photos to give you the flavor.

Bobby Moderow & Maunalua

And to top it off, a woman came up from the audience, spoke to Moderow, and then sang a couple of songs with the group backing her up. It made for a great evening.

It turns out that Momi Joy Lum performed in the Hawaiian Room of New York’s Hotel Lexington back in the 1950s. The venue was a hot spot in Manhattan for 30 years, according to a statement entered into the Congressional Record on the occasion of its 75th Anniversary.

Here’s one of her songs.

George Bennett: The artist behind Neil Abercrombie’s “Super Senator”

Behind the imagesHere’s a bit of trivia that goes back to Neil Abercrombie’s first campaign for public office in 1970, when he ran in the Democratic Party primary against broadcast executive Cec Heftel for the right to take on Senator Hiram Fong in the General Election.

Neil’s unconventional campaign featured Super Senator, a cartoon character in Abercrombie’s image.

Several years ago, I found a copy of the original and scanned it. Click here to see the whole publication.

The artist behind the drawings was a on-again, off-again UH art student by the name of George Bennett.

Abercrombie recalls that Bennett had mastered different styles, and could churn out these cartoon characters, then shift gears to produce a portrait that remains one of the former governor’s favorites.

Bennett went on to become a well-known and all-around colorful character in the Pacific region.

He died in Fiji in March 2009.

According to the Nature Fiji-Mareqeti Viti newsletter:

George was born in California, USA but after periods in the Philippines, Micronesia and Tonga, George spent the last 15 years of his life in Fiji, mainly on Taveuni but recently at Wainadoi. During this period of his life George developed a deep interest in Fijian wildlife and palms and produced many wonderful watercolour paintings of Fiji’s diverse fauna and flora. George leaves a lasting legacy in Fiji – his artwork is the basis of the recent issue of Fijian currency notes, and for the last decade George provided the art work for many stamps issued by the Philatelic Bureau of FijiPost.

Here’s just one example of Bennett’s Fiji art:

Fiji 2006

Other of his Fiji designs can be found here (

Earlier, Bennett had produced the art work for stamps in Tonga. Here’s a description from one stamp website:

Alan Benjamin travelled to Tonga a number of times, and tried hard to keep the designs islander related. In fact on one trip to Tonga early in 1989, Alan noticed a large advertisement at the airport showing a plane which had been drawn by a local artist, George Bennett. Alan was impressed with his work, and inquired who the artist was, and during that trip, went to see George Bennet and asked him to design the 1989 Christmas set, Flying Home for Christmas, based on the advertisement seen at the airport.

From then on, George Bennett, who lived in Tonga for some years before moving to Fiji, designed and was the artist for many Tongan sets, and then later for many Fijian sets. George became a prolific stamp designer, and only passed away a few years ago.

Click here for four Tonga game fishing stamps designed by Bennett in 1994.

In one of those cosmic coincidences that happen now and again, one of the first people we met while walking on the beach in Kahala was Bennett’s sister, Hawaii ceramic artist Vicky Chock. One morning I happened to mention the Super Senator campaign cartoons, and we learned she was related to the artist. Small world, indeed.