Ochikubo, born and raised in Waipahu, was part of a generation of
Ochikubo studied at the
Behlke was recently invited to see Ochikubo's collection at the family home and was overwhelmed by what he saw.
"I sort of felt like I was at my very first Communion ... like I was being spiritually fed," Behlke said. "And when I left I was exhausted. It was just one 'wow!' event after another."
Behlke picked out a few choice works and combined them with some Ochikubo works from other collections to produce "Tetsuo Bob Ochikubo and Friends," an installation on display through
"This is my little effort to pay these masters homage and to say, 'Hey, please come and look at our legacy from the midcentury on, because these guys redefined art in
The postwar era saw the rise of a style known as abstract expressionism, one of the few artistic movements that started in
"Not only did it go to
Although such works are rich in symbolism and in basic geometric shapes like squares and circles, they were also seen as having a spontaneous, rebellious and somewhat playful sensitivity.
The artists from
Behlke's exhibit aims to capture the vitality and creativity of the Metcalf Chateau.
"I think it's essential to see them together, because collectively their energy was greater than the individual," Behlke said.
Ochikubo's works mix symbols like an egg for fertility and "pretend calligraphy" -- cursivelike scrawls similar to Asian characters -- to tie in to his Japanese heritage. The works are particularly striking for their use of color, Behlke said.
"When you see Ochikubo's work, what's so elegant about it is the blending of the color, the faint little brushstroke that was all
Ochikubo's technique is apparent in many of the paintings. Gesturing toward another painting, Behlke said Ochikubo applied some modeling compound to the linen canvas to "texturize" it, applied paint "and then he lets the paint drip."
"And I think he turned the painting to accentuate the drip," Behlke said. "It's almost a visual pun on Pollock or
Ochikubo also was a noted printmaker, having made connections early with the
Ochikubo's son John remembers going to the studio as a youngster and learning the process.
"He kind of cut us loose and we could just do lithographs," he said. "It was crazy fun. We'd be drawing pictures, surrounded by these gigantic printing presses."
Though most of Ochikubo's works in the exhibit are abstract, there is one distinctively representational work, "Kilauea Caldera," a brooding portrayal of the
"It should be in some state collection somewhere," he said.
"You could walk up to the lava and poke sticks into it," he said. "We were just playing with hot lava, goofing around."
On one visit the family stayed until evening and saw the red glow of lava against the night sky. "It was like, 'Holy moly!'" he said, "one of those pictures in your brain that you don't forget in your lifetime."
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