A Fresh Look

Koi Ozu turns ordinary items into funky art for the Honolulu Academy of Art’s Showcase 2006.
Advanced Flower Arranging: Koi Ozu gets fire up for Arts Showcase 2006 photo: Scott Kubo

It’s just like flower arranging, Koi Ozu assures. Only instead of delicate flower stems, Ozu melds galvanized piping together with an industrial-strength mig welder.

Right now, the pipes are tangled up like a porcupine football, but, soon enough, at the artist’s bidding, they’ll rise as one of Ozu’s eight sculptures to be spotlighted in the Honolulu Academy of Arts’ Showcase 2006. The two-day benefit event, running from August 12 through 13, features the 31-year-old Ozu, along with Yvonne Cheng and Rick Mills, as the Academy honors the artistic accomplishments of more than 140 local artists. Art sales as well as food and wine tastings will celebrate local art and support the Academy’s education programs.

Ozu has participated in Showcase for the past four years, but, as a featured artist, this is the first time he’s had to make so many pieces for a single show. The Showcase is the one of the largest art sales in Hawai’i, and, with more than 140 artists accepting invitations, this year’s Showcase is the biggest ever. Every summer, both new and established artists can connect with collectors. In recent years, the event has quickly sold out of art pieces.

Ozu takes coarse, ordinary items and twists them into elegant art pieces. In the past, he’s used spoons, CDs and PVC pipes.

Ozu specialized in ceramics at the University of Hawai‘i, but, since graduating in 1999, his turn to unconventional mixed media has found a place for his colorful art inventions in more than a dozen local shows. Though his main medium is no longer clay, Ozu says he still relies on concepts he learned in ceramics, paying attention to the curves of the sculpture.

“It’s like I’m a kid playing around with Tinkertoys or finding pieces to put together,” he says, describing his work. This is serious playing. Ozu spends more than 50 hours on a single piece.

“All the work I’m doing right now nobody has seen yet,” he says. “I never know exactly what I’m going to be making. I’m going to work until the last minute to make a whole bunch of things I can choose from.”

Ozu’s construction job is actually a break from the hard work of his artwork and even gives him inspiration.

“I see how things are fastened or bolted,” he says.

Not everyone sees what Ozu sees, but that’s why we have Showcase. Now we can experience it, too.

Art Sale
when: August 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
what: Art preview sale and 15-minute artist talks.
cost: Free

Showcase 2006 Food and Wine Extravaganza
when: August 13, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
what: 18 fine wine selections and gourmet food from chefs from the Halekulani, 12th Avenue Grill, L’Uraku, Lucy’s Grill and Bar, Roy’s Restaurant, Town and Sergio’s.
cost: $85 ($35 is tax deductible)