Vernon Rieta - Painting

Matt Tuohy
By Matt Tuohy
Friday - August 01, 2008


Vernon Rieta

Vernon Rieta - Painting

Vernon Rieta is what you might call a man of many hats, a jack-of-all-trades or several other clichés that come to mind. When looking at Rieta’s art, however, it’s hard to imagine him as a martial arts master, fight choreographer and stuntman.

“I’ve been in the movie industry for about 24 to 25 years,“says Rieta.“I’ve done about 64 movies and TV shows, but I have an art background.”

Rieta recalls a mural he created with another artist in 1969 in the PanAm Building on Kapiolani. “It’s still up there,” he says.“I just saw it the other day.”

He also attended the Art Students League in New York and took some classes at an arts center in California.

Vernon Rieta

Rieta’s art comes from a sense of exploration of Chinese culture and his studies in kung fu, he says.

In his series, Auspicious 8, he explores several elements of Chinese culture while referencing his family and a certain “lucky” day that is fast approaching.

“I’m the eighth child in my family, and we’re approaching the auspicious day of 8/8/08, so that’s where the name came from,” he says. “The motif behind some of the paintings is feng shui - they were something to do with good luck, harmony and prosperity.”

Vernon Rieta

Rieta describes one of his pieces as something extremely personal and rooted in Chinese culture: “I did a lion head, which is naturally, for Chinatown, to bestow good luck and prosperity to the people down there.”

Rieta says the colors he chooses in his works bring more to the paintings in terms of spiritual and historical meaning.

“Most of the colors in Chinese feng shui are very important,” he says. “The color red is very prominent. It represents, usually, prosperity and money, but also the Chi or the vital source of someone’s blood - the earnest energy of movement.”

Vernon Rieta

Rieta’s movie career includes Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, Escape from L.A. and Highlander: Endgame. He even has his own profile on the Internet Movie Database ( “Even though I was doing movies, I would also paint on the set,” he says.

His work is currently on view at Louis Pohl Gallery on Nuuanu Avenue. For more information, call 512-1812.



Live from the Lawn

A little farther away from the happenings in the heart of Chinatown on First Friday, Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM) will hold its monthly venue, Live from the Lawn , from 5 to 9 p.m.

The museum’s galleries will be open during the show, with the added spectacle of Samadhi Hawaii’s aerial dancers hanging from the monkeypod trees performing their acrobatics. The “aerial ballet” will feature four women (Andrea Torres, Chandra Miars, Jamie Nakama and Nicole Young) suspended from silk ropes.

Stilt walkers and fire dancers also will be featured (it’s not art, but it’s still cool).

As far as art goes, there are two exhibitions on view at the museum: The Ewa Gallery has He Alo A He Alo: Face to Face, Visions and Portraits of Hawaii on display from the Art in Public Places collection, and the black-and-white photography of Eric Yanagi, Kanani Alu and Francis Haar called Palolo Kids and Friends, in the Downtown @ HiSAM Gallery. The exhibition depicts local kids from the valley in the mid-‘70s.

Vernon Rieta

“The shows are meant to harmonize with each other and bring out a sense of community,” says Peter Britos, HiSAM gallery manager. “We went into our collection and looked for things that aren’t out in the public and put up exhibitions based on that.”

The photos and portraits are intended to be a nostalgic reminder of the roots and fabric of the Hawaii community, Britos adds.

Making appearances at the museum’s gift shop will be several local artists, including painters Dexter Doi and Carol D’Angelo, and Maui woodblock printer Claudia Coonen.

“This is generally what we do for First Friday - have an artist come in and demonstrate their art,” says Karen Capua, the shop’s manager who also selects the artists.“So Claudia will be demonstrating, and Dexter will also be painting.”

There also will be an impressive lineup of musicians including Makana and the Groove Improv Artists on the second floor lanai. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Admission is free. HiSAM is located at 250 South Hotel St.

For more information on Live from the Lawn or the museum, call 586-0300 or visit


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