Artist, designer Pegge Hopper has helped shape the world’s view of Hawai‘i. Her most famous paintings feature cool, design centered compositions of women, mostly Hawaiian women, and large areas of flat color. At 84 years old, HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports, Hopper is selling her gallery on Nu‘uanu and starting a new life.
New originals by Pegge Hopper, Yvonne Cheng, and Mayumi Oda continue on view at Cedar Street Galleries through September 8, 2019.
There’s no substitute for hearing this conversation with Pegge Hopper. Her wit and vitality say it all. I recommend the extended version as well.
Artist Pegge Hopper, owner of Pegge Hopper Gallery, was born in California and worked as a designer in New York and Milan before moving to Hawai‘i in 1963. While working as an art director for Jack Seigel in Honolulu, she was inspired by photographs of Hawaiian women she saw in King Kalākaua’s photo collection at the state archives.
Hopper says the women were “sitting on lauhala mats at Hanauma Bay, not smiling, looking so cool, right at the camera, not grinning, not posing, they were totally self-actualized. These were strong women, totally self-actualized, not trying to be beautiful, not trying to be skinny, not trying to look any way. Just there, in all their glory. I think that affected me a lot.”
Hopper went back to painting. In the decades since, Hopper’s women and her graphic treatment of the tropics have embodied a refined, and gracious Hawai‘i style.
As for hard news, Hopper is putting her building at 1164 Nu‘uanu Avenue up for sale. She has been selling well internationally online and her current gallery director, Melanie Yang, will develop and manage a web presence for her work. (Go Melanie!) Pegge Hopper Gallery supported many artists and causes over the years, most especially, Planned Parenthood. Hopper now looks forward to being in her studio when the muse arrives.
Yvonne Cheng has returned to classic female figures for this show. Born in Surabaya, Indonesia, Cheng was tutored in art as a child and moved to Hawai‘i in 1967. The batiks she made in the 1970’s and early ’80’s were welcomed in Honolulu’s established venues. They featured expanses of both women and ‘ohe kapala printed kapa, usually in earth tones. Her work has expanded into collage, acrylic painting, and pastel drawings.
Mayumi Oda lives and works in Kealakekua, Hawai‘i. Since 1969, she’s had over 50 one woman shows around the world and is represented in prestigious collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), and The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA.) Oda participates in international efforts against nuclear proliferation, and runs a Zen Buddhist retreat where she lives. Oda maintains an active online presence, and has been called the “Matisse of Japan.” Check her feature below.