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Edo period meets Anime

A sweet girl decked out in samurai armor, a little lady in a kimono fitted with a skull-accented hair clip, a kid in a dino suit … and all three sporting Nikes -it’s the work of Urban street artist Pancho Abalos, and it’ll be showing at ING Direct Cafe June 2-30.

Abalos credits Japan’s Edo Period (early 1600s to mid-1800s) for much of his inspiration.

“It was the ukiyo-e art style (woodblock prints) that got me,” says Abalos. “The detail impressed and amazed me, and I was compelled to try to emulate it in my own art. I started with fine details in my backgrounds and in the ninja’s weaponry and armor, and in the geisha kimonos.

Pancho Abalos

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Pancho Abalos working on a painting for the show. Photo by Juan Rivera of Aloha Hype

“From a historical stance, this was the time that art and culture were flourishing, and art was being spread to the masses, to everyday people. That’s basically our modern-day urban art. I think my combination of the traditional with the modern keeps these traditional subjects relevant.

I’m a sneakerhead, so when I throw kicks on a ninja or a geisha, it’s my way of putting my own spin on something that I revere. It’s my way of paying tribute.”

Cartoons and anime also get his paint flowing, as do the faces, expressions and movements of his two children.

A James Campbell High alum, Abalos is encouraging young artists by featuring works from students in Kapolei, Waianae, Nanakuli and Waipahu high schools, as well as his own alma matter. At his opening night reception June 2 from 6 to 8 p.m., there also will be an auction to benefit Hawaii Arts Alliance, which champions arts education.

“I’ll have 15 of my pieces on show, plus 13 works from student artists,” says Abalos. “All of mine will be for sale, and select student pieces will be selling with all proceeds going to each of their schools’ art programs. The theme ‘Tributes’ is about paying homage to something meaningful to you by putting your own interpretation and spin on it. That’s what my whole body of work for the past few years has been about.

“The theme also reflects the fact that I am a product of the West side, of public school, and by inviting these students to show with me, I’m paying tribute to where I came from, my community, and the talent that continues to be nurtured and come out of there.”

the TICKET stub

When: June 2 to 30
Where: ING Direct Cafe (1958 Kalakaua Ave.)
More Info: Panchosart.com

Water-infused Colors

There’s a vividness to watercolor art. Something in the way the colors are translucent and they bleed. They’re soft on the eye, resembling qualities of the natural world. They’re never angled or stern. It invokes nostalgia too, perhaps because it’s something we’ve all dabbled in from our keiki days. Spencer Chang’s study in houses in murky tones, flanked by palm trees, give off a perennially rainy day look. Yet his expert brush captures the subtle moods that portray much more than gloom: the hopeful light glowing through the clouds, the glistening pavement, the moody quietude outdoors. You can almost feel the dampness – makes you want to settle inside for a lazy afternoon with family.

Sunshine and ocean are Rebecca Snow’s theme, from a lifeguard stand taking the brunt of the sun on a glistening summer day to ladies gathered on the beach, enjoying a drink, their legs savoring the silken blue-green caress of the shallow shoreline.

Both artists will be among those whose work is on view at the Hawaii Watercolor Society’s “Affordable Original Art at Small Kine Prices” show and sale at The ARTS at Marks Garage May 29-June 16. Reception is June 1 (First Friday) from 5 to 10 p.m. Happy 50th to HWS! Visit hawaiiwatercolorsociety.org for more information.