Noted local artists Hiroshi Tagami and Michael Powell will be hosting an art show at La Pietra – Hawaii School for Girls on November 3 and 4 from 11 am to 4 pm. The show will mark the end of Tagami’s remarkable career, and a portion of proceeds from the show will be donated to La Pietra.
In addition to the work of Tagami and Powell, other artists showing their work will include Scott Sullivan, wood-turned bowls; Robert Butts, wood-turned bowls and furniture; Babs Miyano Young, glass art and jewelry; Lois Tselentis, ceramics; and Kenny Kicklighter, ceramics.
Tagami will greet guests from 11 am to 1 pm on both days.
“Hiroshi is retiring. He may still paint occasionally, but he is now living at Holiday Retirement in Hawai'i Kai and enjoying leisure time,” noted Powell. “This show is an excellent opportunity to see Hiroshi and add Hiroshi Tagami originals to their art collections,” he added.
Powell, Tagami’s art protégé and life partner, will continue to paint and is now teaching private lessons in landscape art at the Tagami & Powell Art Gallery & Gardens in Kahalu'u Valley, which will continue to be open by appointment.
Tagami founded his special place in Kahalu'u Valley in 1960 with then business manager and partner, Richard Hart, a ceramicist. A horticulturist by hobby, Tagami cleared the barren and junk-filled land to create a lush tropical garden filled rare plants and animals (including a lion in those days). It was a place of art, music, laughter and healing. Hart died in 1987 but another wonderful chapter in this artist’s life started when he reconnected with Powell.
Picture the Honolulu Zoo fence in 1966. Tagami was selling his paintings there when mainland businessman, Frank Powell, spotted his work. The two became immediate friends and corresponded frequently. It was by accident that Frank’s son, Michael, met Tagami. The family was visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City when Frank noticed a handsome Japanese man studying a Rembrandt –– it was Tagami. Michael, 11 or 12 at the time, remembers the impression that Tagami made on him as Tagami knelt so they could talk eye to eye.
Life moved forward and although the younger Powell loved art, he thought he’d better study finance to make a living and he didn’t encounter Tagami again until he was 24 and visiting Honolulu on a business trip. A work of art executed with a palette knife captured his attention and he inquired about the artist: Tagami of course! A friendship grew.
After this trip, the lure of the islands was profound, and Powell moved to Oahu to work with Bank of Hawaii when he was 29. He started taking sporadic art lessons, his interest heightened, but he didn’t see his talent quite as well as Tagami did.
When Hart died, Tagami asked Powell if he would join him at the Kahalu'u art gallery and gardens. He would teach him how to paint and Powell would do the business end. A one-year trial turned into a new career when Powell had his first art show in 1988. Tagami told him: “If your work sells, the universe is telling you that art is your calling.” It sold. All of it, 19 of 21 of them in the first three hours!
Tagami & Powell operated on a different business model. Instead of showing work in any commercial gallery on a regular basis, they elected to work primarily with charitable causes. That model continues today although some of the pair’s paintings can be seen at C.S. Wo & Sons in Honolulu on a regular basis as well as at the Kahaluu gallery.