By Mohammad Salameh, Kapi‘o Staff Writer /
Within the confines of our voluptuous KCC campus, nestled in a shady crook of the Koa building, lies a hidden treasure of sorts: the small, yet neatly structured gallery Koa Gallery, which for the last 35 years has hosted important works from some of the most significant artists in Hawai‘i.
The gallery was established in 1980 under the supervision of professor and artist David Behlke and has survived with participation from distinguished local artists and support from the John Young Foundation and other benefactors.
The gallery is open to the public and admission to totally free.
Most recently the Koa Gallery hosted the Hide & Seek exhibition, featuring local artists Ka-Ning Fong, James Kuroda, Shelly Miller, and Russel Sunabe, all of whom were friends during their undergrad years. In fact the name for the show, Hide & Seek, was proposed by Kuroda as a twist to the name of the restaurant where they The four artists collaborated on the exhibition as a way to reflect on their shared history and how much experience they’ve all gained.
I recently sat with Sunabe for a little chat with him concerning why he chose the Koa Gallery at KCC as a median to display his art.
“I teach here and had access to it, “ he said. “(It’s) one of the few spaces that have the space and exhibits contemporary art. It is a good little gallery.”
Kuroda, who serves as senior exhibit specialist at the State Foundation of Culture and the Arts, said it was an honor to have his art works presented at a gallery that has presented so many quality exhibitions in the past.
A painter for over 30 years, Kuroda said he strongly believes the Koa gallery to be a great exhibition location for up-and-coming artists as well as established professionals.
The exhibition also featured works by Ka-Ning Fong, who built his reputation on painting vibrant pieces depicting street corners, buildings and other city structures, and Shelly Miller, who works in pastels.
The Koa Gallery has a storied history and is well-known and respected in local art circles, even as it is often overlooked by students hurrying from class to class.
Why not take a moment to take a free walk through the gallery?
You may just see what all the talk is about.