Revisiting ʻIolekaʻa for an anniversary

2 07 2018

Iconic view of ʻIolekaʻa

Yesterday, after 20 years, I walked back in to ʻIolekaʻa valley in Windward Oahu for the 20th anniversary of the celebration of life of my late friend Anita. She, her faithful dog Ei Nei, and the ʻāina (land) are memorialized in 13 landscape oil paintings I made in 1994. It was an honor and a privilege to have been invited by Anita to see her home, then and now.

A dozen friends and relatives began arriving at 9 a.m. calling “Ūi!” (Halloo) and answered by “Eō!” (Iʻm here). Long pants, long sleeves, boots, rain gear, hat, gloves, and defenses from mosquitos made up our garb. The plan was to hike through the bamboo forest to clean the heiau (stone platform) area and to rebuild the ahu (altar) with pōhaku, and then farther to the foot of the mountain, that is the water source for ʻIolekaʻa stream, where Anita’s ashes had been spread from a helicopter.

Cultivated anthuriums

Ginger and tree ferns by the stream, just steps from the house

Tracey and Donna blow the conch to acknowledge visitors

Cut anthuriums for Mom

Daughter Donna began with a prayer, and when she mentioned Anita’s name, a soft sweet wind breezed by, acknowledgement enough! Mahalo e Anita! Mahalo e ke Akua!

Oh, the memories. Not much has changed, except that I saw less kalo (taro) growing in the gardens. In fact, everything looks a little tidier. The current generation has recently returned to the land, acknowledging and accepting it is their kuleana to care for it.

Clearing the trail

Along the stream

Ancient Hawaiian rock terraces overgrown with bamboo

Every now and then a waterfall

Looking up

The ahu — before

Before photo. Waiting for the others.

The dog Ei Nei’s marker. R.I.P.

Corner wall of the heiau

Donna and Wally carefully rearrange the rocks for the ahu, flat side out.

More waterfalls

The ahu — after

Anita’s family and friends. pc: Didi Akana

After we pau hana we sat down to talk story and shared a bottle of wine and rolls with butter and jelly (Anita’s favorite snack). Sort of like holy communion, I thought! To me, the anniversary celebration for Anita fulfilled its purpose when the younger ones, her now-adult grandchildren, stepped up and announced it was their turn to continue the work.

We emerged from the forest at 3:30, muddy, damp and happy, and glad a pot of corn chowder and other goodies were waiting for our potluck “lunch.” By the time I walked out to modern civilization it was 5 p.m. What a full and wonderful day! Aloha e!

White ginger

 

Tahitian gardenia

~ Rebekah Luke

 





The things I find

15 02 2018

Today I came down with a case of cleaning frenzy in the studio. Not just cleaning, but decluttering as well. You know what I mean! Artists have a reputation of being messy, but frankly, I prefer tidy and organized so I can think more clearly.

One of the happy finds was a haiku I wrote in December 1979. I am including it here with some photo images so it won’t be lost again.

HAIKU

Wake up in the morn

And see the pretty sunrise

From Kaaawa

Mountains by the sea

I see the lion crouching

My own waterfall

Five white horses graze

O’er fence where grass is greener

At Kualoa

Salt spray, ocean mist

Turn on the windshield wipers

It isn’t raining

Slick bay reflections

Morningside of Oahu

Oriental hills

 

Sunrise

Kualoa

 





Welcome 2018

1 01 2018

Welcome 2018, studio fans. Wishing you peace, a lot of hope, and more love this new year.

View from the studio near the end of 2017. The waterfall started from the mega rainfall we had on the island.

In midtown Manhattan, a couple takes a selfie. Remember to LOVE.





The Bathhouse (Kaʻaʻawa)

15 08 2017
“The Bathhouse (Kaʻaʻawa)” oil on canvas by Rebekah Luke. Private collection.

This photo arrived in the email today. What a surprise and a thrill! “How much is this painting? My mom wants to know. She got it in 1991,” the inquirer wrote.

There was a photo of the back of the painting on which I wrote “1991,” but on looking at my record book, I saw that the painting (no. 29) was purchased in 1993 by a nice couple of Kaʻaʻawa who collected memorabilia of our town.

Some years afterward I looked for the buyers to ask if I could make a digital photo of their painting and was told they had moved. But now, I have a photo!

I told Tj*, who emailed me, the amount I sold the painting for, and to whom, and the average price of my paintings today. (Watching “Antiques Roadshow” on TV, I really should raise my prices! 😉)

The painting was part of a series of images of all the manmade public structures in Kaʻaʻawa, including the two bridges. They were unveiled at Swanzy Beach Park where park director Patty Greene had the kids hand paint and put out a sandwich board sign that read simply “Everybody Come.” I still have that sign. Minnie Akiona from the Kaʻaʻawa Country Kitchen across the highway brought over a tray of Chinese noodles and other refreshments.

Then the pictures were shown at an exhibit entitled “Painting the Town” in conjunction with the play “Chicago” at Diamond Head Theatre. Some of the paintings were bought by neighbors, and at least two pieces of the collection (the 8 a.m. flag raising in the school yard and the bookmobile) are hanging in the Kaʻaʻawa school office because the principal bought them.

So much for no. 29. My most recent oil painting “Glass Full of Daisies” was no. 202. I sent it to Texas in June as our wedding gift to Aunt Ross. It’s good to keep records, and I am happy to provide the provenance of an art piece.

* Epilogue: Tj emailed back to say her mom is the daughter of the original purchasers of “The Bathhouse…” and that the painting is still hanging in the house.

~ Rebekah Luke





Eulogy

30 07 2017


Remembering Susan Rogers-Aregger (June 28, 1951-July 2, 2017)

We were all blessed to know Susan and share her life. I will cherish her friendship always. Susan was my friend, teacher, and colleague. She taught me most everything I know about making art with tissue paper, marketing and selling art, and how to run an art gallery and co-op—all of which I have managed to do over the many years we knew each other.

I want to tell you about a bond we had. We had the same mentor, the colorist Gloria Foss. Since Gloria’s passing, Susan carried on her legacy of teaching collage; and I continued Gloria’s method of teaching oil painting and how to turn the form. Susan co-authored their textbook entitled Paper Dyeing for Collage & Crafts, and I had the privilege and honor of doing many of the photographs for How to Paint by Gloria Foss. We both loved to quote her to our students in class: “Gloria says . . .” Ahaha. But we go back further than that.

I first saw Susan when she was introduced by Ramsay Goldstein at a meeting of the Honolulu Branch of The National League of American Pen Women. At that time she was working at Ramsay Gallery in Chinatown. She flashed her big, cheerful smile, that toothy grin, happy to meet other artists, writers, and composers. I could see instantly that she was someone special. She looked like she would be good fun!

At that time I was a Letters member only, working with words, not images. Susan joined as an Art member. The Pen Women Art members were such an inspiration. I gravitated to learning about color and how to paint—from Gloria! Shortly after I had the guts to hang my paintings at the Honolulu Zoo Fence, Susan invited me to join the Arts of Paradise Gallery at the International Market Place, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I remember one day when Susan called and told me how sick Gloria was and how she was at her bedside urging her to hang on to life. No luck. Similarly, when I visited the Aregger home it was two days since Susan had lapsed into a coma. Dan and her hanai sister were there, as were two caregivers. The doctor had left, and they said he would come again the next morning. It was a beautiful day as I watched their whirligig in the wind on the beach, the wind blowing the clouds and the palm fronds, too, reminding that life is a continuum. I gave Susan some Reiki.

Hawaii’s poet laureate Don Blanding (1894-1957) wrote this poem I would like to share:

“Somehow”

I’ve tried for many an hour and minute
To think of this world without me in it.
I can’t imagine a newborn day
Without me here . . . somehow . . . someway.
I cannot think of autumn’s flare
Without me here . . .alive . . . aware.
I can’t imagine a dawn in spring
Without my heart awakening.
These treasured days will come and go
At swifter pace . . . but this I know . . .
I have no fear . . . I have no dread
Of the marked day that lies ahead.
My flesh will turn to ash and clay
But I’ll be here . . .
Somehow . . .some way. —Don Blanding

Rebekah Luke
July 30, 2017
Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Gardens, Oahu





Pictures of me and my parents

27 03 2017

Nine cousins including me met for lunch as we occasionally do, and today Millie brought an album of old photos and sweet memories. Here she is with Eileen (center) and Eileen’s daughter Marty, at right. What are they looking at that is so interesting? Why, it’s me, little Rebekah, with my dad Arthur and my mom Fo-Tsin! That watermelon sure looks good.





Cover art

2 03 2017

A group of classmates packed and fulfilled the early orders for our reunion book today. It was my honor to design the 164-page volume. God designed the cover shot of a Kaaawa sunrise. I just happened to be lucky enough to capture it with my iPhone!

Punahou School Class of 1967 50th Reunion

Punahou School Class of 1967 50th Reunion








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