Tsuchidana explains that the three elements
of the exhibit’s name express his personality perfectly.
Gemini is his astrological sign; he was born in the year of
the Monkey; and Kumamoto Ken is a prefecture in Japan known
for its abundant beautiful landscapes, a source of inspiration
for his work.
All three are quite playful,” Tsuchidana said with a laugh, “and
also nobody else can have a title like that for their exhibition.”
Tsuchidana’s exhibition of more than 30 paintings spans
a time period from 1955 to today, and except from some matted
nude sketches and abstract prints, available for $200 each, his
prices range from $600 to $24,000.
Since it has been more than 15 years since Tsuchidana had a
solo exhibit, he was both anxious and elated.
This is the first interview I’ve had in a long time,” Tsuchidana
said. “No one has asked me to do a solo show in so long.
I can go on and on and brag about Pablo’s (Picasso) work,
but it’s hard to talk about your own work.”
A full-time master artist (and part-time jokester), Tsuchidana
began perfecting his craft at a very young age. “When I
was seven, I had already started tracing comics,” he said. “From
then on, I’ve been doing this.”
Tsuchidana trained at the Honolulu Academy
of Arts and Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. He lived
in New York for
a while, where he met fellow local artists Satoru Abe, Jerry
Bob Ochikubo, Isami Doi, and Tadashi Sato.
I’m very proud of Harry,” Abe said at the opening
reception. “He really deserves this (recognition).”
Tsuchidana’s artwork is primarily in the style of abstract
expressionism (abstraction of form in order to evoke expression
of emotion). This art form emphasizes a more personal way of
exploring life’s experiences.
Tsuchidana’s earlier works were inspired by the efforts
of Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, and Matisse. These initial pieces
mostly carried nature themes, as in his painting titled Earthworm,
which uses a beautiful combination of grays and blues. His
later works lean toward a geometric abstract theme, using
and a few secondary colors to create vibrant horizontal and
vertical asymmetrical shapes and patterns. Tsuchidana said
in his art focused more on human situations.
Most of the artworks at the JCCH show are from Tsuchidana’s “Stage” series,
which he has been working on since 1979.
Tsuchidana said his “Stage” paintings depict the “lefts,
rights, ups, downs, and all the different angles life throws
Despite the imbalance of life’s problems, the shapes Tsuchidana
paints are separated by lines that “divide” each
experience, giving the paintings an amazingly balanced appearance.
The weights of the colors and strokes all come together on
the canvas to form a stable picture of the many events in
When I worked on one ‘Stage’ painting, I thought
about one of my neighbor’s who led a really tough life,” Tsuchidana
said. “That was my focus, and what you see is my interpretation
of his trials.”
Tsuchidana also said he gets bored very easily, so he
often works on multiple paintings at the same time. He
no time limit for any piece of work he’s done. He believes
desire and patience will get you through each piece.
It’ll come to you,” Tsuchidana said.
This same attitude is how he gets the distinctive names of
his pieces. He calls them “afterthoughts.”
Truly a funny man at heart, Tsuchidana would often
toss in a joke here and there as we went from painting
So, did you bring your wallet today?” Tsuchidana asked.
As much as I wanted to buy one, the paintings I particularly
liked, Harvest and Weeded Out, were not for sale.
A very friendly, charismatic man, Tsuchidana also
your sign?” as we walked around the Historical Gallery
where his art is being showcased.
Oh, Virgos are really smart…I can see that about you,” he
said with a smile.
In addition to giving me a personal tour of his
exhibit, he provided helpful tips, such as how
to clean watercolor
Any bread is good, but I use Love’s,” he said. “You
just rub it over the painting, and it’ll look as good
One of his past paintings, Collective Landscape,
a watercolor done in 1959, looked as if it had
Tsuchidana attributes this pristine quality to
his use of trusty ol’ Love’s
Once he finished giving me the tour, the final
question Tsuchidana answered was advice to young
starting out in
the profession. With a big smile and teasing
look, he said: “Become
a dentist instead!”
Tsuchidana’s exhibit will be at the JCCH Historical
Gallery through Oct. 22. Call 945-7633 for more information.