Thriving Indie Art

Raw talent bursts through the room. At one booth, a young man holds up T-shirts he’s designed in bold colors. At another, a young lady has models on hand showing off her handmade, lace-accented swimwear. Booth after booth pulses with youthful verve as photographers, painters and purse, clothing and jewelry designers show off their creations. Nearby, hairdressers and makeup artists are engrossed in applying finishing touches to their models.


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Xisco Ponce Jr. with his surreal sketches featuring screaming anime characters.

Soon the room is packed and the excitement kicks into rocket gear. A group of teens with modern and classical instruments takes the mic, then comes a guy juggling and spinning a dozen basketballs, followed by b-boys with electric dance numbers that incorporate gloves with pulsating colored lights – all performing to thunderous applause. The monthly event is RAW: natural born artists. It’s definitely not for the quiet, contemplative art connoisseur. RAW visitors are hopelessly swept into such an intoxicating rush of youthful creativity that, for the duration, you’ll be thrust back in time, wanting to chase all those artistic dreams and pursuits that fell by the wayside.

No one can say Hawaii’s art scene is lacking after witnessing RAW, where an incredible wellspring of talent assembles in one place. When you think you’ve seen it all, RAW comes along with slews of independent artists, each with an act or booth featuring something surprising and fresh. I found myself wishing everyone I know could be there to be as inspired and have as much fun as I was having.

The most impressive individuals and groups on display throughout the year come together to compete in a year-end RAWards show. The winners move on to compete in National RAWards. Attend any of the monthly events and it’s impossible not to get giddy about all the passionate creativity surging through the room.

the TICKET stub

When: Feb. 16, 7-11 p.m.
Where: Aloha Beer Company (580 N. Nimitz Hwy.)
Cost: $10 pre-sale online, $15 at the door (suitable for all ages)
More Info:


Singing To The Guillotine

Voices dim one by one as nuns, singing out heroically, make their way to the guillotine. Just reading about it brings a chickenskin tingle. Dialogues of the Carmelites, an opera about a group of nuns martyred for their faith, celebrates its Hawaii premiere Feb. 15, 17 and 19 (hawaii

During the French Revolution, as the embittered populace rose up against the aristocracy, the Catholic Church, which had aligned itself with the nobility, also suffered the wrath of the masses. Hawaii Opera Theatre’s upcoming offering echoes a true moment in history when a group of Carmelite nuns are caught up in the resulting turmoil.

If this all sounds a bit antiquated, we have our own cloister of Carmelite sisters here in Hawaii at St. Stephen’s Diocesan Center, and their chapel is open to the public for daily mass.

“Carmelites are cloistered, which means they don’t go outside of the monastery. Their primary mission is to pray,” says vicar general of the Catholic diocese, the Very Reverend Father Gary Secor.

Secor points out that Dialogues of the Carmelites is relevant today on a number of levels.

“(At the dawn of the French Revolution) church leaders had aligned themselves in an unhealthy way with the riches, so a good portion of the revolution was directed against the Catholic Church. That is unfortunate, because basically what you have is the state taking over the church. The monastery of the Carmelite sisters was being confiscated, and if they didn’t stop publicly professing their faith the sisters were going to be killed. The church is not being threatened with death today, but there are attempts in current society to control some of our religious practices.

“There’s also the theme of heroic virtue in abiding by one’s conscience. The young sister who joins the convent at the beginning of the opera is not present when the authorities show up. She could have just not come back to the convent when they were being guillotined, but in the closing scene she shows up at the last minute and also is killed. It’s a testament, religious or not, about being challenged to be authentic in one’s beliefs and even willing to pay the price for them.

“I was talking to (opera vocal coach) Neva Rego, and this opera is not normally done. It doesn’t have all the crowd-drawing glitz and glamor of a Tosca or Aida. I commend the Opera Theatre for taking on this project. I understand the music is quite beautiful.”

Another chickenskin visualization – tragic, haunting and inspiring all at once.