Krista Woodward - Glass Sculptor

Matt Tuohy
By Matt Tuohy
Friday - January 09, 2009

Glass sculptor Krista Woodward’s career of melting glass rods into whales, fish and turtles started on Maui with a bookkeeping job in an art gallery.

“I asked (a gallery artist) if he would teach me, and he did,” says Woodward, noting that she had always wanted to be an artist but until then was having trouble choosing a medium to work in. “But when I walked into the gallery where I took the job as the bookkeeper, and it may sound corny, I just knew that glass was what I wanted to do.”

Now Woodward is the feature artist at Oceans in Glass gallery in North Shore Marketplace in Haleiwa, where she has been making and selling her works for the past 12 years. “I’m definitely blessed and honored,” she says about working in the gallery. “I’ve been very busy there. It’s actually the only place where I sell my work - I don’t even have a web-site because I can barely keep up with the gallery’s demand.”

Woodward says she draws her inspiration from her love of the ocean and childhood memories of sailing with her father. “I don’t have to go further than the ocean to get my inspiration,” she says.“I just put on my snorkel and fins and just jump in and start looking at the sea life.”

In the gallery, Woodward and her apprentices work in a tiny, closetlike space where a blowtorch shoots out a long, hot flame. There are windows for viewers to watch as the artists melt and bend long pieces of glass into works of art.

“That’s always a lot of fun, training the next generation,” she says of her apprentices. “I teach them the line of ornaments first, and then they can go up from there if they stick around.”

Woodward commutes to Oahu from Maui at least once a week to train her apprentices, add new items and talk with customers. A private studio on Maui, however, is where she does the bulk of her work.

“I get a little of both worlds,” she says. “I go over to the gallery and I meet with the customers, and they want to buy pieces or take photographs or meet with me and discuss a sculpture. I feel like everyone’s coming at me from all directions. Then I can come back and be utterly alone in my studio and focus on my sculpting.”

The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, and open till 9 p.m. on the last Saturday of each month for the Haleiwa Art Walk.

The Local Canvas

Robert Graham and Anjelica Houston

Internationally famed sculptor Robert Graham passed away at age 70 recently in Santa Monica, Calif. The Mexican-born artist was most famous for both his bronze sculptures and his marriage to actress Anjelica Houston.

Aside from the majority of his work - sculptures and sketches of the nude female body - Graham has several famous commissioned works all over the United States, including the Duke Ellington Memorial in New York City’s Central Park, the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the gates in front of The Contemporary Museum in Makiki Heights.

“He had done a couple of single-panel slide doors for private homes before that,” says Jay Jensen, one of the museum’s curators. “But this is the only piece in which he did the double doors that basically consists of reliefs of female nudes in various positions.”

The gates were installed in 1988 for the museum’s opening and are special, if not odd, pieces as Graham rarely made such objects.

In fact, most of his works were miniatures of the female body, but there are several exceptions. Examples of his artistic prowess can be found in Los Angeles at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which has a set of large, intricately designed brass doors. There also is the Olympic Gateway at the entrance of the Memorial Coliseum, where a large, headless and robust man and woman stand at the entrance where the 1984 Olympics took place.

Another piece of Graham’s on display in The Contemporary Museum is a bronze sculpture of a nude woman, titled Heather.

“This was at a time when pop art and minimal art and post-modern art were all happening,” says Jensen, “and he sort of resolutely focused on studying and depicting the female figure - generally the nude figure - over and over again in various situations.”

The piece is part of the museum’s 20th anniversary exhibit, At 20: Docents’ Choice. The statue and the gates are the only two known works by Graham currently on view to the public in Hawaii, says Jensen.

“There haven’t been any other sculptors like him who’ve followed that sort of specific focus,” says Jensen. “It very much counters what we call the mainstream of contemporary art, what everyone else was doing. He was just basically following his own vision.”

Graham, the son of a Mexican mother and American father, moved the U.S. in 1952 and attended San Jose State College and the San Francisco Art Institute. Wife Houston and son Steven, who was born from a previous marriage, survive Graham.

For more information on the exhibition or the museum, visit or call 526-1322.

For more on the artist and to view other works, visit

CORRECTION: In last week’s Auto Focus, artist Toshiko Takaezu was referred to as “Mrs. Takaezu,” which is false. Takaezu has never been married. Also, the Takaezu show is not related to the Twigg-Smith Westermann exhibit also on view at The Contemporary Museum. MidWeek regrets the errors.

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