Edit ModuleShow Tags

Realist Art at Windward Community College

Realism Rises: For a growing number of local Honolulu artists, the most exciting painting techniques are the oldest ones.


“Antique Bowl with Figs” by Madeleine McKay

“Charmaine” by Norman Graffam

The art world today rewards street-savvy spraypainters and avant-garde, conceptual weirdness. Not so the Atelier Hawaii studio on the Windward Community College campus. There, you feel you’ve entered a re-imagined scene from Renaissance Italy. Mozart plays in the background, while artists sporting nose rings and tattoos daub their canvases, standing in a forest of easels. For 10 years, Snowden Hodges has led the Atelier, training a small but dedicated army of artists in traditional realist drawing and painting. “We have a hotbed of classical art in this out-of-the-way place,” Hodges says. “Who would guess it? There’s a huge interest now in this type of work.”

The Windward Realists group, which includes Windward faculty Norm Graffam, Jonathan Busse, Toni Martin and Hodges, plus Atelier graduates Jill Butterbaugh, Rene Darrow, Colin Ota and Madeleine McKay, is exhibiting its work this month at the Pegge Hopper Gallery in Chinatown. Expect paintings of still lifes and figures that glow with warm color and wear witty titles.

The Atelier program focuses on the time-tested drawing techniques that hone observation skills and emphasizes the convincing depiction of three-dimensional objects. Butterbaugh attended the Atelier for the fourth time in 2011. “It slows you down and helps you really see what you’re drawing,” she says. “It’s so precise. I keep coming back because it helps refine my drawing skills.”

Other experimental local artists have benefited from going back to the traditional basics. Abstract artist Mary Mitsuda attended the Atelier in 2003, and says, “You’re exploring visual language. For me, it was different to work in a more literal fashion. Everyone’s painting the same thing and you can really see how each artist abstracts the elements and focuses the composition.”

Check out the Windward Realists this month at Pegge Hopper Gallery, 1164 Nuuanu Ave., Nov. 2 to 26. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Subscribe to Honolulu

Honolulu Magazine May 2019
Edit ModuleShow Tags



9 Greatest Honolulu Homes

Great Homes

Stunning, historic, extraordinary.


Can the Mainland Do Poke Right? Do We Want Them To?​


Martha Cheng, author of The Poke Cookbook and former line, talks about how a New York City publisher decided Hawai‘i’s favorite pūpū was for everybody.


50 Essential Hawai‘i Books You Should Read in Your Lifetime


The most iconic, trenchant and irresistible island books, as voted by a panel of literary community luminaries.


Everything You Need to Know About Local Fruit in Hawai‘i


Fruits are part of our history and culture, a way for us to feel connected to our community.



A Local’s Guide to Buying Reef-Safe Sunscreen


Five Hawai‘i brands have created reef-safe sunscreens that are safe for your ʻohana and the ocean. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags