Steve Yuen, accomplished local architect at Group 70 International, launches his first art gallery at Treehouse Coworking. Yuen’s art is three-dimensional graphic print work of iconic Hawaii scenes and influences designed to spark a viewer’s interest through depth, color, landscape and familiarity.
Yuen has been planning resorts, cities, and attractions for more than 40 years, on almost every Hawaiian island, coast-to-coast on the mainland, and throughout the Pacific as an architect and urban planner. Yuen’s career in urban planning can be considered public art, encompassing the way places develop and people experience them as his canvas. As a principle at locally acclaimed architecture firm, Group 70 International, and after 58 years in the industry, he has added another outlet to share his talent and passion.
His art celebrates Hawaii in no simple terms. It is humble, underplayed, and expressive (like Steve) who by any standards is a perfectionist. His story begins with an interest in printmaking, art that by design is for everyone. He connects his very formal training in architecture and design at Harvard University, and a lifelong career of dreaming and bringing to life the context of development, buildings, open space, human experience, and place. He cares deeply about Hawaii and its culture and has an affinity for the ocean and its underwater scenes. His favorite past-time is exploring the reefs around the Hawaiian Islands with his family, specifically Molokai in the summers as a child and teen in the 60’s and 70’s. A main driver for Yuen and his approach, subject matter, and execution relate to that time spent. Today, Yuen is still an active diver taking in the sights and sounds of the Pacific.
“Through my art, I'm trying to evoke some sense of those memories, and the meaning of that time,” said Yuen. “But yet, my art is not nostalgic, is not political. I'm not trying to develop symbolism that represents advocacy for this or restoration of that. I'm just really trying to get some things down that I think visually, while they may not be remarkable, will be worth looking at for people that enjoy Hawaii, and for different people it will take them back in time, but also give view to the present.”
Yuen has envisioned gigantic places before they were ever designed and today he uses the modern tools of three-dimensional drawing software to support his architectural design process. Interestingly, he uses these same digital tools as his paint brush to convey his message in his art with exquisite craftsmanship and detail. His art focuses on a certain period of Hawaii and his new style of printmaking and landscape has touches of Andy Warhol, Cezanne, and Banksy in these 3-D worlds of yesteryear we call home.
“Just take a stroll down Waikiki and Steve Yuen has probably considered what you would be feeling while walking down that sidewalk, watching sunset from your high rise, or that moment you walk into a lobby and into another world – he has designed that for you, and every possible audience,” said Keno Knieriem, co-founder of Treehouse Coworking and president of Honokea Surf Resorts. “It is a thoughtful process that makes you feel something, absorb it, and appreciate it.”
Yuen’s art gallery will be open to the public this Friday, September 21, 2018 at Treehouse Coworking located at 74 Kihapai Street in Kailua from 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Prints are available for purchase. The event is free and open to the public with ample street parking available.