January, 2007 Vol. 32 No. 1
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Published January 2007

The Art of Inspiration: John Wisnosky, 1940–2006

by Thomas Klobe
Wisnosky at work on a painting

Wisnosky at work in his studio

Editors note: Windward Community College’s Gallery ʻIolani offers a retrospective exhibition of work by the late John Wisnosky Jan. 19–Feb. 16, 2007. Gallery hours 1–5 p.m. Tuesday–Friday and Sunday

For nearly 40 years, John Wisnosky painted the light, land and sea of his beloved Hawaiʻi. Although his nostalgic paintings reflect a romantic inspiration, he was never one to shy away from innovation or social commentary. The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa art professor organized the first exhibition of kinetic art in Honolulu in 1967 and, along with colleagues Kenneth Bushnell and the late Helen Gilbert, introduced light art to Hawaiʻi in 1968 with a light environment at the Honolulu Advertiser Gallery. His prints of the late ’60s and ’70s are icons of the consciousness of the Vietnam War era.

Wisnosky's acrylic painting, Daughters Journey, 1991, 98 x 71 inches

Wisnosky’s acrylic painting, Daughters Journey, 1991, 98 x 71 inches

Wisnosky was born in Springfield, Ill., and received bachelor’s and master’s in fine arts from the University of Illinois-Urbana. He joined Mānoa’s Department of Art and Art History in 1966, twice serving as chair for a total of 15 years. He taught drawing and painting with a perceptive eye for the formal aspects of art, and he encouraged students to consider philosophical and social issues in developing their work.

A charismatic leader who loved people, Wisnosky inspired others as well. A community organization he founded, pARTners, rallied behind his enthusiasm and zest for life to organize some of Hawaiʻi’s most memorable art events during the ’70s and ’80s. His mural depicting early Polynesian explorers, The Adventurers, inspired Hawaiʻi Convention Center officials to use themes of exploration, vision, teamwork and destination in marketing the center, where the painting is installed as part of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ Art in Public Places Collection.

Thomas Klobe is a longtime colleague who retired as professor and Art Gallery director in 2006


Publication honors dance pioneer Carl Wolz, 1932–2002

book cover: Shifting Sands by Carl Wolz

After earning a master of arts in Asian Studies from UH Mānoa in 1962, Carl Wolz spent his life promoting dance locally and internationally. He established the dance program at Mānoa, where he served on faculty for 20 years.

Ever the innovator, the St. Louis native, Juilliard student and Navy veteran danced on crutches and created works representing astronauts in space. He also helped initiate State Foundation on Culture and the Arts workshops on hula and establish Hawaiʻi’s Artists in the Schools Program. And he founded a statewide dance council and the Asia Pacific Dance Alliance, forerunner of the World Dance Alliance.

Carl Wolz

The alliance celebrates his vision and contributions to the modern development of dance in the Asia Pacific region in a new book, Shifting Sands: Dance in Asia and the Pacific. Dedicated to Wolz, the book includes interviews with dancers, an original oli by Mānoa lecturer and alumna Vicky Holt Takamine and essays by Wolz’s students and colleagues throughout the region.

Shifting Sands: Dance in Asia and the Pacific is available at Select Books Online.


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