May 25--The Greenroom galleries in Waikiki and Japan bring love of the ocean, art and Hawaii together in one space. Along the way they also raise the international profile of Hawaii-based artists such as Clark Little, a photographer known for his from-the-water shots of Oahu's waves, and Heather Brown, a painter and printmaker who has designed poster art for the Triple Crown of Surfing and Jack Johnson's Kokua Festival.
Starting with one gallery on Kalakaua Avenue that opened in 2010, Greenroom has expanded with a new space in the Sheraton Waikiki that opened last month.
"Greenroom" itself is a reference to the ocean. Laarni Gedo, an artist who helps staff the new gallery at the Sheraton Waikiki, described the term as "the tube," or closed curl of a wave when a surfer's inside it.
The galleries are an outgrowth of the annual Greenroom Festival in Japan. The surf-themed art and music event comes with a message: to love the ocean. Photos of past festivals show bands onstage, flanked by banners saying "Love My Beach" and "Save Beach."
This year's festival is taking place this weekend in Yokohama. Jimmy Cliff and Kauai's Donavon Frankenreiter are among the headliners.
"Through music and art, our aim is to convey ocean and beach lifestyles and culture and maintain precious beaches for our children," Naoki Kamayachi, gallery owner and organizer of the Greenroom Festival, said in a statement.
The gallery's artists are thought of as ambassadors who share their talents "but also their passion for the ocean and the importance of protecting it," Gedo said.
Gedo, a tanned and avid surfer herself, has been seriously working as a painter for just over five years. Her work is shown in the Sheraton Waikiki gallery.
"I get to paint what I love," she said.
As surfing becomes more popular in Japan, events such as the Greenroom Festival help educate people about responsible use of the ocean. Environmental organizations including the Surfrider Foundation, Ocean Peoples and Coral Network are invited to participate.
The success of the Greenroom Festival prompted Kamayachi to start ocean-themed galleries in Shibuya and Kamakura, Japan.
In 2010 Kamayachi joined with Jun Yoshimura, owner of Good Art Animation in Waikiki (and guitarist-vocalist for Honolulu rock band Linus) to open a Greenroom Hawaii gallery on Kalakaua Avenue near the old International Market Place.
Many Japanese nationals discovered the art of Brown and Little at the Greenroom Festival.
This is Brown's sixth year at the event. As she has become more well known to Japanese nationals, they are increasingly seeking her out, forming long lines for signed prints both in Japan and in Honolulu. Greenroom Hawaii also features Japanese artists Koji Toyoda, active in that country's surf-art scene since the '90s, Yusuke Hanai and Sho Watanabe.
Kat Reeder and the artists known as Welzie, The Captain Surfs and Two Crows, who works with surfboard material, are based in Hawaii. California surf artists Andy Davis, Jeff Canham, Susan Wickstrand and Tyler Warren are also represented. Most show original work and prints, including woodblock and canvas prints.
Greenroom Hawaii also features handmade, beach-themed jewelry and accessories, including hats and bags, by local artists and labels.
"So many people dream of coming to Hawaii because it is such a melting pot and especially since it is the birthplace of surfing," Greenroom general manager Yohei Otani said in a statement. "It somehow makes sense and is a big honor to be able to share a little bit of Japan's surf art where it all began, here in Waikiki."
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