Standing in front of Lionel Walden’s blue-hued The Torchlight Fisherman, Waikiki on display in the John Dominis and Patches Holt Damon Gallery: The Arts of Hawai‘i, grants manager Michelle Morihara says, “It currently reflects my mood or what I want my mood to be.” 

It’s difficult not to be enveloped in the calming, hazy blues cast upon the ocean after sunset and before dawn. The beach is empty save for some fisherman holding small torches of light. For most people, hearing “Waikīkī” conjures up mental images of a hustling and bustling tourist beach. This painting depicts a different time and almost place.

Lionel Walden (1861-192) "The Torchlight Fisherman, Waikiki, 1930" Oil on canvas board Bequest of Patches Damon Holt, 2003 (12702.1)

Lionel Walden (1861-192)
“The Torchlight Fisherman, Waikiki, 1930″
Oil on canvas board
Bequest of Patches Damon Holt, 2003 (12702.1)

“I want to be calm and serene. I take the serenity in that it’s nighttime, it’s a lot quieter than in the day because you don’t have birds flying around, etc.,” she continues.

Morihara’s philosophy on art goes like this: you relate to artwork like it’s a reflection of your mood or state of mind. It can also help your mindset reset.

“This one I can take a deep breath, let it out and let out the worries of the day, or even the highlights of the day,” she says. “I can just relax, it’s the end of the day.”

As someone who studied art for undergrad, she’s spent quite a bit of time in HoMA. On a busy, recent Friday, she stumbled across this painting and breathed a sigh of relief that it was the weekend.

Morihara joined the museum in October after what she calls an “adventure in the Pacific Northwest.” For the past 18 months, she volunteered for organizations around Seattle and Portland, which gave her insight into the nonprofit world outside of Hawai‘i. But now she’s back and ready to share the knowledge and experience she gained. Whenever she needs a quick break, you know where to find her.