Color, Light & Space


Story by Rita Goldman

Labyrinth by John Shoemaker, Artist's book with woodblock prints, 11.5"x3 closed, 11.5"x68" open
Labyrinth by John Shoemaker, Artist’s book with woodblock prints, 11.5″x3 closed, 11.5″x68″ open

Works in wood, kiln-formed glass, pastel on paper, handmade books . . . these are a few of the new works on display at Viewpoints Gallery in Makawao now through December 5th. Color Light Space is the latest offering by a gallery that has been pushing boundaries since it opened more than two decades ago in this historic cowboy town.

Viewpoints began as the collaboration of more than a dozen respected artists who wanted “Is it good?” to be as important a criterion for exhibition as “Will it sell?” Since then, the gallery has expanded its mission to explore the role of the artist in community — for example, in depicting and helping to preserve the Islands’ natural environment and indigenous culture. Each year, Viewpoints hosts workshops, lectures, field trips and exhibits that bring artists together with Hawaiian practitioners, conservationists and environmental scientists, and, ultimately, with the rest of us.

This time, the mission is visual literacy.

Artists have long understood that color, light and space can transform a blank canvas into something luminous and moving; those three familiar elements can seem the stuff of magic. The trick is in knowing the scientific principles that make the magic happen.

In 2011, gallery curator Joelle Perz and artist/educator Richard Nelson invited a handful of local artists to commit to a year of seminars on the visual vocabulary of art, then create works for an exhibition. The project grew out of their concern over the contemporary trend away from visual literacy, not just among the general public, but among artists and even art curators.

Though the seminars would encompass some pretty cerebral stuff — geometry, physics and other laws of nature — it’s hard to imagine a more compelling invitation for any serious artist. Nelson studied with the seminal color theorist Josef Albers; Dick’s the go-to guru for those who want to master the mysteries of light and color. Joelle Perz, who served as the project’s coordinator, is herself one of Maui’s most established artists.

Nested Squares 3 by Karuna Santoro. Kiln-formed glass, 12"x12"
Nested Squares 3 by Karuna Santoro. Kiln-formed glass, 12″x12″

“The idea was to invite professional artists who are already addressing visual literacy, and  help them take it to a higher level,” says Joelle. “We also wanted to begin a conversation.

“Now that we’ve begun to see the work that’s come out of those seminars, I can tell you that this is going to be an amazing show.”

The seminars focused on the complexities of how light behaves, how colors influence one another, how a two-dimensional medium can convey the sense of three dimensions. They also explored the ways artists have approached these elements throughout history, and how the evolution of technique and intention can change the influence of a work of art.

Viewpoints will present the video lectures and conversations during November, and repeat them in January at UH–Maui College. For details, contact Viewpoints Gallery, 808.572.5979;

Color Light Space
Through December 5 at Viewpoints Gallery
3620 Baldwin Avenue, Makawao


  • Connie Adams
  • George Allan
  • Michael Clements
  • Cynthia Conrad
  • Robin Ferrier
  • Kit Gentry
  • Lisa Kasprzycki
  • Diana Lehr
  • Joelle C. Perz
  • Karuna Santoro
  • John Shoemaker


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