Text by Andrea Lee Images courtesy of Noe Tanigawa
You may recognize Noe Tanigawa by her soothing tones, for which she is known as “the voice of Hawai‘i Public Radio.” But the radio reporter and co-host also happens to be a prolific artist who works with a range of media including clay, fabric, and video. Most recently, her creative preoccupation has been encaustic painting, simultaneously burning and painting her canvases with pigmented hot wax.
This month, artworks she made with this method and others will be on display at Saks Fifth Avenue in Waikīkī for Saks Art on the Avenue, a showcase that highlights a different local Hawai‘i artist each month. In preparation, the store’s visual director carefully arranges the pieces alongside Saks merchandise, and in an individual showroom. Then, the department store hosts a gallery opening for the artist.
“They came in with a real intention of engaging with the local community,” Noe Tanigawa says of Saks Fifth Avenue’s art program. “They take the trouble to do individual shows for every artist, which is part of their commitment.”
Tanigawa has several styles of paintings on display at Saks Art on the Avenue. Her abstract paintings for her Ka ‘Iwi series were inspired by locations along the Ka ‘Iwi Coast, and were created with oil and encaustic on Lutradur (a durable yet lightweight fabric-paper hybrid). Her Ocean series similarly draws on expanses of sea around the islands, as well as Juan Ramón Jiménez’s poem “Oceans,” and features oil, encaustic, and aerosol paints.
Tanigawa’s Compass series, which she named for Japanese compass needles, features paintings of encaustic on mahogany canvases. The designs are striking and symmetrical, dark wax contrasting with natural wood. “My mother passed away in February, and I started making these paintings listening to Japanese gongs, doing these compass needles—really to find some direction,” Tanigawa says.