The simple sign for Kobayashi’s Art Enterprise was a familiar sight on 12th Avenue in Kaimukī for decades. The small second floor frame shop was a hangout for one of Hawai‘i’s most important artists, Satoru Abe, who encouraged the owner, Hamilton Kobayashi to paint. Now they’re both featured in a show at Saks 5th Avenue in Waikīkī. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports.
Hamilton Kobayashi, proprietor of Kobayashi’s Art Enterprise, a professional framer, says he owes everything to artist Satoru Abe.
Kobayashi: I owe everything to Mr. Abe. Because of him, I started to paint again. He inspires artists. Certain people, they project a feeling of kindness, humbleness, and inspiration. He does that.
Kobayashi: He’ll tell you, Noe, just keep painting, just do what you want to do. No matter what, just be creative. If you like your artwork, that’s all that matters.
That’s really all people need to hear.
Kobayashi: I’m still in the learning process. There’s no finality. You’re learning as you go along. I’m learning new things so the style is changing too.
Kobayashi's paintings are representational land and seascapes, largely the volcanic landscapes of Hawai‘i Island and the Ka Iwi coast of O‘ahu.
Kobayashi: When I paint oceans, my son them, they like to go fishing, so in my mind I’m thinking, that painting, if a fisherman saw this scene, would it make him feel like, Oh! I want to go there and fish off that rock!
Kobayashi: And this shallow water one. This tako fisherman said, Oh Ham, I like it because that’s the way I look for tako, the shallowness, and I look for holes. When they tell me that, I feel good because, did I capture that feeling?
Brushstrokes dance across the canvasses, that look like they're becoming more abstract.
Kobayashi: As much as possible, I don’t want it to go to galleries. Because the markup is so high. I want people to afford it. I like people to come here, see something they like.
Artists love and need galleries—but they take a 50% cut. Galleries need the money to stay in business and promote their products, but yes, that's a 100% mark up. Like many artists, Kobayashi invites people to his studio, just give him a call at 808-735-1802. I called out of the blue and he was so welcoming!!
Or you may see Kobayashi's work now, with Satoru Abe and Harry Tsuchidana ---"Three Geminis" is the name of the show, at Saks 5th Avenue Waikīkī through the end of November 2018.
I'm going to try Kobayashi's technique for stetching canvas. Hear it at the end of the extended interview above.