Hawaiian Eye

I’ve known my friend, Keoni, who hails from Hawaii, for a long time. We’re talking over a decade, actually. We work together, though in different departments, but I don’t get to see him everyday. Though when I do, he always cracks me up. Keoni has an offbeat, off kilter, quirky way of looking at life, and I just adore quirky. If you ask me, having a great sense of humor goes a long way.

But in all the time I’ve known Keoni, turns out I didn’t know one thing—the man has talent! I learned this recently, when I had the opportunity to pop in his office, located on the floor below mine. I’m not normally in that area. Make that, I’m NEVER in that area. It’s kind of out of the way, and akin to me swinging by Vancouver, B.C., on my way from Southern California to New York.

Anyhow, here’s what happened when I walked into his office:

My jaw dropped.

Turns out, in addition to his office job, he’s a painter and a photographer. And, if you ask me, he’s got an eye for both!  A Hawaiian eye, that is. A few of his paintings hang in his office and they are breathtaking. Keoni works with acrylics and bold colors in a style that is truly modern.

After “oohing” and “ah-hing,” over his art, he showed me his photos. There are so many, and each has a story. I asked Keoni to choose his top five so that I could post and share with you. Here they are, along with a sixth one that I added. The accompanying stories are in his own words. I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

Title: America Goes Green

Photo #5: The above photo was taken at San Diego Mission Bay against a gorgeous blue sky. Between Hawaii and San Diego, I have lived under beautiful baby blue skies my entire life. So, I decided to change this one to green.

Title: The State of America

Photo #4: A floor display in an Apple retail store. My brain associates this image with such diverse things as: Communism, the media, mind control, drones, Big Brother, space aliens, billiard balls and eggs.

Title: Lucifer's Shade

Photo #3:  Why this shot? Because some look for the devil in everything, including pretty trees.

Title: Family Values 2.0

Photo #2: You wouldn’t know it, but an abandoned World War II bunker hides in the shallow hill above the sprinting, shin-guarded keikis; echoes of Pearl Harbor too faint for the little ones to hear.

But I do.

On this very spot in Kapolei, my nephew, Kainoa (far right), gives everything he has to prove his mettle to his teammates (and possibly show off to his uncle, back visiting from ‘The Mainland’). But fútbol, in my pre-Internet, matching sunny days, would have been impossible for me.  Back then, this area was caked with patches of sugar cane, deep, red powder dirt, deformed rock, and infinite mixed brush, bickering ruthlessly with one another, each trying to edge the other out.

And I loved every acre of it.

My finger gun pointed upward, the humidity of Oahu’s Leeward side, ignored and time uninvented, I spent what seemed like two school years trudging through the denseness on one too many weekends.  It was only when keawe thorns pierced my skin that my critical role of “Child Soldier, U.S.A — Defender of The Islands!!” … momentarily dissolved.

Title: Katrina Killed the Klown

Photo #1: I took this photo in 2010, by sneaking into an abandoned Six Flags amusement park in New Orleans, compliments of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. A park that, at one point, sat beneath 8 – 10 feet of flooded waters. Sometime after drying out, someone spray painted, “Six Flags 2012 coming soon” on the wall above the downed, and dearly departed, clown head. But they were clownin.’ Six Flags will never rebuild there.

AND ONE MORE (Editor’s prerogative!):

Title: Dog Peer

The dog’s owner says that he and his wife bring their Bull Terrier here nearly every day at sunset. The dog goes wild, running back and forth between either end of this short, shallow pier, just past the San Diego Mission Bay Visitor Center.The dog is looking for fish that occasionally jump out of the water. A couple of times in the past, this here dog dove in after the fish, but never had luck catching any. Each day, this dog can’t wait for his trip down to the pier. Goes crazy over the jumping fish.

Word has it that Keoni is a poet, too! So maybe, just maybe, he’ll let me share some of his poems here soon. In the meantime, Keoni has all his photos posted on Flickr and welcomes their use by any blogger. Just let him know and include a link to his page.

I’d love to know what you think of his photos, and what thoughts go through your head when you look at these.

52 thoughts on “Hawaiian Eye

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  4. America goes green and Lucifers Shade are my favorites. Beautiful. I love scenes we are all familiar with being turned radically on their heads. I like the way these shots thumb thier noses are the ‘rules’ and in the process, something fresh and beautiful is revealed.

    More like that Keoni….those shots are also the ones I could imagine hanging on a wall…anyway….at home….(hint hint – so might others..)

    • Ian, I’ve seen your magnificent work, so hearing your thoughts on Keoni’s photos makes it all the more special. I can’t wait for Keoni to return from his trip and read all the high praise from my readers. This will definitely make his day!

      Thank you for stopping by!

    • Lucky you! I visited there about 10 years ago and it is a stunning place to be. Love the climate, the island feel, the ocean. All perfect. Can’t wait to hear all about it in your blog!

  5. Wow, these photos are amazing! I also enjoyed reading about each one, especially about the soccer field as it adds a bit of history and his story to the place his nephew plays.

    • It was the Katrina Klown photo that made me realize I needed to blog about his pictures. So I’m thrilled you like that one. Coming from you, whose blog is centered on amazing, compelling photos, this means a lot to both me and Keoni. See what Keoni said about all these wonderful comments he’s getting in my response above to Tracey. 🙂

    • Thank you, Tracey. I was just reminded that this is Keoni’s birthday week, so all these wonderful comments are making him very happy. He’s away celebrating, but here’s what he wrote me:

      “I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift than what you shared on your blog…The whole thing just gave me awesome fuzzies all around. Truly. Then to read the comments some your readers left about my work . . . well, does it get any better than that? Talk about satisfying.”

  6. As a ‘free write/prompt writer’ who frequently writes from word and photo prompts, I’d say there is a story for any writer in all of these photos. I find each of evoke characters and feelings. The tree and the clown face were strong for me. I do love it when I am taken in like this what comes from this is unknown to me until I am finished. Lovely, each one. Thanks much for posting and sharing with us.

  7. Monica, Keoni has a wonderful photographer’s eye! Oh my goodness, those shots are amazing! I love the one of the door on the dock! The composition is perfect and the storyline behind it even more so. You’re very fortunate to have such a creative friend whose office you can visit for a little inspiration whenever the mood strikes you. You lucky lady, you! 🙂

    • Oh, Bella! I’m so pleased you like it. I wish you could meet Keoni and see all his work. He’s so talented–but then, so are you! I just love all your photos of Miss Roxy. 😉

      And yes, I agree. The “Dog Peer” photo composition is sublime. That’s why I took the prerogative and added it to this post.

  8. Wow, Keoni! These are really amazing photos. I love them all and want to see more! Glad you have a Flickr page 🙂 Is there going to be a blog on the paintings too?

    • Who knew? Very funny, Nate. Why, you knew! Ha!

      Discovering friends that have talent is like coming across a gold mine. As soon as I saw Keoni’s work I just knew I had to blog about it. Thanks for commenting, Tex!

  9. Thanks for introducing us to your friend Keoni — I particularly liked his dog on the pier photo. That dog obviously is scanning the waters, just waiting for those fish to jump! My Sheltie probably would race him to get one, too — that is, until he learned you have to go into the water to do it! Don’t like the clown picture (clowns still terrify me!)

  10. Isn’t that a fun way to learn someone’s life stories – thru their hobbies. His work is beautiful. I really like The True Color Love, cuz it reminds me of a photo I took of my mom and her boyfriend in Germany, sitting along ariver on a bench. Thanks for sharing Monica.

  11. Keoni is very talented and I love the fact that each picture has a story. The picture of the abandoned Six Flags amusement park in New Orleans is particularly striking.

    • One of the things I like so much about the tree is how much it looks like lace. I can picture myself laying under that tree and staring at the sky through its branches. A lovely way to relax. Jodi, you’re free to use it in one of your posts. I know Keoni would love that. 😉

  12. Wonderful photos. I particularly liked the clown…can’t explain why though. And the terrier waiting for the fish. My dog goes nuts when it’s time to walk down the driveway for my son to meet the bus. Thanks for posting these. Your friend is an amazing photographer.

    • You know, Debra, I ordinarily hate clowns. They terrify me. But I love that photo. It is so eerie. I know what you mean about not being able to explain why you’re drawn to it. I had to throw in the terrier photo because I liked it a lot, too.

  13. I really love “Family Values.” Photography is such an intricate skill that I admire in people who do it well. Keoni has a conceptual eye he lends to the camera. These are photographs that speak.

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