Danvers Fletcher - Painter

Matt Tuohy
By Matt Tuohy
Friday - October 17, 2008
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Danvers Fletcher - Painter

Though Danvers Fletcher is not of Hawaiian ancestry, his connection to the Islands and their cultural past is strong in his paintings.

“I’ve never really painted much of urban life or city life,” he says.“I’ve always been inspired by ancient cultures, especially when I got to Hawaii to work for Island Heritage.”

Fletcher spends his time either out on the waves, working at Home Depot or in his studio painting Polynesian-inspired portraits, ancient Hawaiian scenery or building the frames for each piece. He uses various techniques like airbrushing for his portraits, and even used house paint to make a mural in Ko Olina.

What really stands out, in terms of his framed works, are the frames themselves. “I really try to make the frames an incorporation of what’s in the middle,” says Fletcher. Each frame is made of what looks like driftwood, sea shells and other items you can find on the beach, all of which are meant to give it an authentic Hawaii feel.


Fletcher maintains that even though his work may seem touristy, it is done out of respect for Hawaii and its people. “I’m not knocking on Hawaii when I’m doing this stuff, I’m doing it in the spirit of,” he explains, “because I have a lot of respect for Polynesian cultures, and I wouldn’t pretend to try to be able to interpret it. But I’m so moved by it that I just work in the spirit of, you know?”

Fletcher began his journey as an artist when he was a small child - like most of us not in the current public school system - in art class. “I used to make clay figures like miniature cop cars with cop-figures coming out,” he says.

Wind Goddess, a custom made frame to accectuate the painting inside.

When he turned 19, Fletcher attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco twice - the first time he dropped out. After 15 years of doing odd jobs and starting a lucrative business painting holiday decorations on store-front windows, he later returned to the college to get his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in graphic arts advertising.

What brought Fletcher to Hawaii was his wife, who was born in China. “We decided to spilt the difference between California and China,” he says.

Fletcher’s work is usually on display at the Haleiwa Art Gallery on the North Shore, and he has done work on the Merrie Monarch calendar for several years. To see more paintings, or to contact Fletcher, visit www2.hawaii.edu/~danvers/

Paddler, a custom made frame to accectuate the painting inside.


Writing with Thread

The University of Hawaii at Manoa Art Gallery is currently showing Writing with Thread: Traditional Textiles of Southwest Chinese Minorities - a show filled with examples of jewelry, detailed thread work and more from the most remote regions and villages in China.

The collection of 500 pieces is a small sample from the Evergrand Museum in Taiwan and its director Huang Yingfeng, who amassed more than 11,000 pieces collected from rural Chinese minority villages located along the river banks of the country’s three great rivers, the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Pearl.

“The title came about because of what is embroidered in these costumes are the messages, the history, the legends and the myths of these various ethnic groups,“says Tom Klobe, the university’s emeritus director.

Klobe personally joined Huang in the summer of 2005 on a journey to a rural village in China, taking planes, boats and even unsaddled horses just to buy some textiles for the museum. “I have traveled a lot all my life because I felt that was necessary as a professor in the arts that I educate myself to become knowledgeable, and the best way of doing that is that I go see it,” he explains.

The exhibition is set up like a winding path to represent a river, where the villagers who made the garments are found

The exhibit has many outfits for matrimonial ceremonies, coming-of-age wear or simply what we might call our “Sunday best,“made by the women from groups like the Miao, Yi, Shui and more.

As far as whether the impressive collection is considered art, Klobe says it best: “This is their means of expression, instead of oil painting or things like that. It’s a way of expressing their traditions - embroidery itself is a part of their traditions.”

Outside of the impressive representation of the minority groups’ work is the intricate detail poured into each garment with the absence of modern technology or technique.

Other artifacts like wooden and travel looms illustrate how dated and labor-intensive each piece is, and gives an appreciation for the attention to detail paid by the women who made them.

“We have here a presentation here in Hawaii that no one should miss,” Klobe says. “It’s been brought to us for us to see.” Granted, the exhibit will travel to the Mainland for a few more limited engagements, but after that it will return to Taiwan.“This is a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The exhibition is set up like a winding path to represent a river, where the villagers who made the garments are found

The exhibit will run through Nov. 30 and admission is free. The gallery hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, and is located in the Art Building on the UH Manoa campus.

For more information, call 956-6888 or visit www.hawaii.edu/artgallery.

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