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I kēlā me kēia mana`o


September 2004 

Kama `aina Artist Louise Kikuchi

By Wayne Higa

Lāna`i-born and Hilo-raised artist Louise Kikuchi opens the latest in her series of solo shows at RainierPhoto by Jesse Hiraoka Square's Foster/White Gallery on September 2nd.  She began painting at the age of thirteen, taking lessons from a watercolorist on the island of Hawai`i.  The 1963 graduate of Hilo High School received her BA in French, magna cum laude, from the University of Hawaii-Mānoa, completing a program which included a year of study at the Sorbonne in Paris.  She was awarded a PhD in French phonetics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and held professorships in French at the University of Texas, Austin and at Western Washington University. Although tenured as an associate professor, she chose to devote full-time to painting in 1995.

A three year period from 1992 to 1995 spent in Tokyo, where she painted and studied sumi-e and calligraphy, as well as taught Japanese to American students, made a return to her tenured position more difficult. Louise found the philosophical assumptions of sumi-e suitable to her view of art, and the technical challenges so intriguing that sumi became her medium of expression.

Her upcoming show at the Foster/White Gallery, "Spanish Allusions," reveals her efforts at expressing San Sebastiano.  Photo by Spike Maffordthe experience of viewing some of the world's most celebrated paintings found in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

"Given the visual and intellectual density of the paintings at the Prado, I opted to create grids in order to assemble the experience in a coherent way," said Kikuchi.

Along with the solo and group shows at the Foster/White Gallery, her works have been exhibited elsewhere in Washington State, Idaho, Boston, Vancouver B.C. and in Tokyo. Public collections of her work include the Boeing Corporation, the Harborview Medical Hospital in Seattle, the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, and Asia University in Tokyo. She has also conducted various workshops in Sun Valley, Idaho as well as in the Pacific Northwest, including sumi demonstrations at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. A 2005 University of Washington Press publication, The Fables of La Fontaine, from a traveling exhibition of paintings inspired by La Fontaine's fables, will include Louise's interpretation of a celebrated fable. This was in a sense a completion of a circle since it reunited her art and her academic field of study.

When not immersed in art, Louise maintains an active family life. Her husband Jesse also received his doctorate in French language and literature, which allows their shared interests to be expressed in three languages, with the advantage Louise has of knowing Pidgin. She is interested in cooking, is a student of jazz, offers advice as a master gardener at the University Farmers' Market in Seattle. And from her early years spent in Lāna`i, she can still pick out the best pineapples.

Aloha to Louise as we look forward to her forthcoming show, and the others to follow.

Wayne Higa and Louise Kikuchi have known each other since the first grade at Waiākeawaena School in Hilo, Hawai`i.

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