Artist Kirk Kurokawa is Living His Dream

Melissa Tanji

Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Kirk Kurokawa was in the first or second grade when knew he wanted to be an artist.

“As long as I can remember, I have always liked art,” said the 44-year-old award-winning painter.

Like many youngsters, the Wailuku resident was fond of comics and animated movies. But he also had an affinity for painters like Norman Rockwell and local artists, including Hawaiian historian and Polynesian Voyaging Society co-founder Herb Kane. He was also impressed by the work of Maui-born artist Tadashi Sato, whose circular mosaic piece, “Aquarius,” graces the rotunda of the Hawai‘i State Capitol. Sato, who served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II, made the iconic work from six million tile pieces that had been imported from Italy.

And now, Kurokawa is on his way to becoming just as famous as the artists he has always admired.

Last July, Kurokawa’s commissioned portrait of former Hawai‘i Gov. Neil Abercrombie was unveiled at the Hawai‘i State Art Museum. The oil on canvas portrait measuring 48 inches by 36 inches shows Abercrombie standing on a länai at Washington Place. It is now displayed in the ceremonial room of the governor’s office along with the portraits of Hawai‘i’s 17 previous governors.

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