One More Time / Good things don’t necessarily come in threes. Hall and Oates. Peanut butter and guava jelly. Or, in this case, Hiroshi Tagami and Michael Powell.
Powell’s father was a huge fan of Tagami’s artwork, and by chance, the Powells met Tagami in New York City’s Metropolitan Center when Powell was 11. Years later, Powell visited Hawaii for work and saw a Tagami painting. They met up and began a friendship that became a mentorship. “He said to me one day, ‘Michael, I’m going to teach you how to paint so you don’t have to buy paintings,’” Powell remembers.
This weekend, their work will be on display and for sale for the last time together. At 84 years old, Tagami is moving into a retirement home in Hawaii Kai and finally saying goodbye to the art scene–well, kindo of. “He will paint for his pleasure,” says Powell. “As he does produce them, we’ll make them available for purchase, but there won’t be very many coming forth.”
The upcoming exhibit will showcase a wide range of recent and old work from the artists’ private collections. There will also be art from good friends, who Powell calls their “family of artists”: Sullivan, Robert Butts, Babs Miyano Young, Lois Tselentis and Kenny Kicklighter.
Tagami’s had an eclectic life. The Wahiawa-born artist has travelled and propagated rare plants, raised money for countless charities and even taken care of a baby lioness from the Honolulu Zoo. Powell says it’s been a good run together. “When he first sat me down and I was 30 years old, he told me, ‘Michael, you and I, we cannot simply think about ourselves, we have to think about how we will help other people.’ That was something that we agreed upon and one of the cornerstones of our partnership. For both Hiroshi and me, one of the best parts of our career is we got to work a lot with charities and raise money with our work.”
Powell, on the other hand, says he will never retire. He currently teaches art and began mentoring to a young artist named Jon Watase. “When Tagami started teaching me to paint, he was 57. I’m now 57 . . . I just think that it makes sense that [since] Hiroshi mentored me, I want to share that gift.”