searched for a place to begin writing about Wailehua
Gray, I dashed out to the local post office and the
answer appeared literally before my eyes. In the day’s
mail was a flyer from the Hamakua Music Festival.
Quadruple imprinted images by Wailehua graced this small
brochure reminding me (and everyone) once again how much
he gave and how much we have lost with his passing.
His artistry is something too few people are acquainted
with. The answer why is quite complex. Even people who
knew him usually didn’t have a clue about the depth of
artistic variety he produced. To wit Wailehua’s simple
ink drawing (used by the afore-mentioned music festival)
which combines a signature (but stylized) petroglyph
figure playing a bass viol with the distant moon perched
in an upper corner like a stage hung spotlight. He
caught within this small granulated image, both the
flavor and reasoning behind their festival – funding of
a youth scholarship program and providing music teachers
for local schools. An accomplished guitarist himself he
played with some of the worlds’ finest musicians in his
seven plus decades. In deed Wailehua loved making music
almost as much as he did the act of painting.
little he’s known is easily pointed up by several
pertinent facts. None of his works has yet been
collected by the State Foundation on Culture and the
Arts for the Hawaii State Museum and although his work
has hung in group exhibitions at Honolulu’s Academy of
Art, they too have none in their permanent collection.
The majority of his paintings have gone into private
collections spread across the nation and internationally
with but a handful still in Hawaii. I know he felt
somewhat neglected in this respect but a deep pride of
creation wouldn’t allow him to even consider angling for
attention. He felt (and rightly so I believe) the State
was missing the boat by overlooking his work. He once
remarked that they’d eventually come round. I hope this
Intensity of hue defines the excellent works of
Wailehua Gray amid their tremendous variety. As part of
his oeuvre, they are just a few of many, many works that
so eloquently express the depth of artistic talents
plumbed by this fine man and much missed friend.