Original wood burned oil paintings and new works by David “Kawika” Gallegos will be unveiled by the artist at a reception in his honor at Harbor Gallery from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. Pupu and refreshments will be served.
Gallegos moved to the Big Island in 1994 from the Bay Area, and has been showing at Harbor Gallery since. Originally from the Denver area, Gallegos won scholarships in painting and drawing and moved to the West Coast, where he eventually earned his master of fine arts degree from the University of California at San Francisco in 1977. He worked with renowned Tamarind lithographer Ernest DeSoto and produced pieces for the “Art for Peace Project” among other exhibitions from 1978 until 1990, also traveling throughout the United States and Europe. He has also spent a lot of time in Japan and collectors there flock to his shows.
Gallegos’ latest and most successful technique was originally inspired by wood burnings on a floor in an old mansion in San Francisco. About 12 years ago, he started experimenting with various techniques and different woods, first burning the image into the wood, and then painting many thin glazes of oil paint over the image. The trick is, to leave much of the wood grain visible through the painting, which produces an original look that also varies with each piece he transforms, each wooden canvas having its own unique characteristics. The wood burning also adds dimension and texture. He calls these his Wood Burned Oil Paintings.
Gallegos works with different woods, but mostly koa and mango. The koa works best with darker, nighttime scenes where he will sometimes dangle a full moon over the water as paddlers push by, and mango wood, being lighter, suits itself to hula dancers performing their graceful motions in varied authentic poses and daytime scenes with tropical reefs and floral compositions. His subjects also range from playful dolphins to his newest foray, embellishing maps of the Hawaiian Islands with symbols of Hawaii; hula dancers, sailing canoes and palm trees all adorn the area surrounding the map, bringing to life some of the spirit of the islands, with the wood grain giving the sensation that the viewer is looking at a very old rendition.
The public is invited to spend an evening with the artist whose work is collected by patrons all over the world. For more information, contact gallery owners Gunner and Elli Mench at Harbor Gallery, 882-1510, harborgallery.biz or firstname.lastname@example.org. The gallery is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and located next to Cafe Pesto in Kawaihae.