Louis Pohl was my friend.
I had not known Louis for very long. In fact my acquaintance with the man who in 1994 was named a Living Treasure of Hawaii by the State Legislature, in recognition of his contributions to the Hawaii art community, spanned the whole of three years… his last three years.
In trying to find a gallery that might display some paintings a friend had made, I came across Louis and his wife, Sandra. Until that day, I had no idea who Louis was let alone his prominence in Hawaii’s art community.
Our first meeting was at their home, a house in Oahu’s lush Nuuanu Valley, overlooking a well-watered stream from which you could always hear quickly-moving water as it rushed above and around the rocks and boulders that lined the stream and its banks.
The house was truly that which you would expect of an artist. An orderly and planned approach to the interior design was overlooked in favor of an eclectic display of paintings, sculptures, and artifacts from all over the world appearing in what seemed to be the spots they occupied when first made a part of the house... it was a beautiful place in which to be.
On one wall hung a three-paneled oil painting, each panel perhaps five feet high and half that wide, vibrantly depicting in a lava-flow at night.
In different places in the living room and on shelves and cabinets were stored smaller paintings, many of which were stacked against others, equally beautiful yet differing greatly in style.
I later realized that in those brief moments, I was getting a glimpse of different periods in Louis Pohl's life.
I am not an artist, nor have I spent much time in art circles. Yet, as it turned out, the three of us - Louis, Sandy, and I developed a quick bond.
Sandy and I shared an interest in marketing pieces of art, and Louis, sometimes amusedly and at other times quite seriously, would chastise us for focusing more on the commercial viability of a piece of art rather than the intrinsic value it held for the artist and the beholder.
Whenever Louis would talk about any of his paintings, the conversation was never about the accolades garnered nor its dollar value. Rather, he would speak of the time in his life during which the piece was created, all the while maintaining a reminiscing grin and sparkle in his eyes.
Louis was someone that simply lived life without trying to possess it. He loved painting, yet he seemed little concerned about whether his paintings sold or not.
Through others who had known him, I eventually learned of the mark Louis had made in Hawaii’s art history…
how he started the Honolulu Art Academy’s first school where he taught for 35 years…
how he taught at the Kamehameha Schools for 15 years…
how he opened and ran an art gallery in Honolulu giving many up and coming artists a venue to display and sell their paintings...
but these and his numerous other accomplishments are more for which others are much more acquainted with Louis. To me, Louis was simply an individual who could capture on canvas the beauty he saw, that others might share the same joy that he experienced in the moment.
Today, as I look at the many paintings which are his legacy, and one particular beachscape given me by him and Sandy, I thank God that our paths had crossed… that Louis Pohl, was my friend.
While most of Louis's original paintings are in private collections, a few originals and a number of limited prints, posters, and cards with Louis's art are available through the Louis Pohl Galleryin downtown Honolulu.
In the meantime... enjoy a few of the works of Louis Pohl.
Click here to visit the Louis Pohl Gallery
Of course if you're in Honolulu, visit the gallery in person!
Louis Pohl Gallery - Hawaii Fine Arts & Custom Framing
1142 Bethel Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Tel: (808) 521-1812 (ask for Sandy!)