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JAMES HOYLE – Bringing art and new life to Hanapepe, by Christine Faye

Kauai Magazine, Fall 1999, p. 64

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James Hoyle’s exuberant paintings dramatically present Hanapepe’s bougainvillea, cascading in a riot of color down the lavender and gray cliff sides. Full of energy and light, his work captures not only the texture and mood of a scene but also preserves the fragile beauty of Kaua’i. The layering of lush oils and oil pastel sticks in Hoyle’s paintings harks back to French impressionist master Van Gogh, Gauguin and Seurat in an intensity of tropical color.

Mary Hovious, an art teacher who taught Hoyle from 7th to 12th grade, inspired and guided Hoyle to develop his talent and discover the value of his work. She encouraged him to attend the Ringling School of Art in Florida on a working scholarship. He lived, ate, slept, and dreamt art all day long and graduated with honors. “Talent is only a small part of an artist’s success, the drive to create art is what makes an artist.”

Hoyle’s travels, before arriving on Maui in 1977 and Kaua’i in July 1979, were in most part sponsored by art patrons. Each destination being with purpose. He entered numerous art competitions and won many first place awards. His search for wild and beautiful places far from his native Nashville led him to Sarasota, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Santa Fe, New Mexico. But ultimately, he was attracted to the rusticness of Kaua’i’s lifestyle and lured by the landscape with its contrasts of natural beauty. The north shore’s lush beauty pulled him, but unable to find studio space, he headed west and found a new world in the plantation camps of Kekaha. “It was the real Hawai’i.” The color and long light contrasting with the scorched earth, mango trees and haole koa frosting the hills in lavender captivated the artist.



For two years he painted in the intense heat in the rubble of the old camps, capturing the exuberant colors of gardens and weathered houses. To earn money, Hoyle drove to Koloa to paint by the side of the road, selling paintings on the spot, then returning to Kekaha. “I felt compelled to be there – painting. I painted every day, painted everything I saw including the kids bicycling down the streets and people on their porches.” Kids watching were rewarded with stubs of pastels.

Hoyle shared the old Japanese school building with Charlie Kaneyama for a while. By 1981, much of it was bulldozed, but cherished memories of it survive in Hoyle’s paintings. Still enamored of the light and color of west Kaua’i, the artist found a suitable studio space in Hanapepe in the Serikawa Building. “At the time you could see through the walls.” Hoyle had great hopes for Hanapepe while repairing and improving the building that housed his studio and gallery. The 1992 hurricane put an end to his tenancy in the building on the east side of town. But before the devastation, his art was being collected, notably by Hawai’i’s Senator Inouye, many universities, and university professors. Today, Hoyle has collectors around the world.

1983, painting Camp #7 at the reservoir in Wahiawa near McBryde Sugar


Hoyle's first studio in Kekaha, 1979-1981

The new James Hoyle Gallery opened on the west end of Hanapepe in a building that housed a roller rink during World War II. The golden yellow of the building speaks of new beginnings. Inside, the fresh white walls are a perfect backdrop for the warm and swirling colors. Visit Hoyle’s upcoming 2000 art exhibit and see for yourself. The show will include the work of Morris Mitchell and Fiore Custode. Both artists formerly taught Hoyle at Ringling 34 years ago, and influenced him greatly. You’ll find that Kaua’i’s sun-drenched color and rich purple shadows still inspire and seduce the artist.

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