Twelve by Two

Two artists chase down one fleeting moment of beauty per month, for a year.

Next month, an exhibit at The Academy Art Center at Linekona will feature the watercolors of Roger Whitlock and Mark Norseth.

On a breezy, warm Wednesday afternoon, Mark Norseth and Roger Whitlock squint into the lowering sun as they perch over their painting easels in an Iwilei parking lot. It’s one stop on a year-long tandem quest to paint where they find beauty or surprise in Oahu’s neglected corners. This gritty spot is perfect for their purposes—sunlight transforms the industrial buildings into a golden geometric puzzle, accented by shadows and snaking pipes. “Things that are a little past their prime can be fetching in the right light,” Norseth says.

Each month one of them suggests a location: the loading dock of a famous Waikiki hotel, a deserted alley in Honolulu’s colorful Chinatown or the fish shacks opposite the more picturesque Kewalo Basin boat docks. Then they paint on location together, each zeroing in on specific aspects that catch their eye. Despite their stylistic differences, Whitlock and Norseth respect each other’s work and have used the challenge of painting together to learn and stretch.

Roger Whitlock, who passed up a college art scholarship to study literature, spent 37 years teaching English at the college level. Since retiring from the University of Hawaii in 2001 he’s devoted himself full-time to painting. Mark Norseth worked as an artist and illustrator in New York City before moving to Hawaii with his family in 1998. Both painters show at the artists’ cooperative Gallery at Ward Center and teach adult classes at the Honolulu Academy Art Center.

 Their project comes to a close in February. Pairs of their paintings will be on view at the Honolulu Academy Art Center second floor gallery from March 23 through April 16, 2010 with a public reception Friday March 26. You can see more of each artist’s work at and