Students in my English class at the college have problems with verb tense. They start in the past but quickly flip into the present.
Maybe this language challenge has its origins in pidgin. Maybe it's teenspeak. Maybe it's the Hawaiian oral tradition. Keali'i Reichel once told me that genealogy chanting was like channeling, bringing the past to life in the present with words.
We use verb tense, along with clocks and calendars, to keep track of time. But art's not bad at doing the job, either.
It's been a half-century since the Beatles first told us all you need is love. CNN's new documentary, "The Sixties: The British Invasion," co-produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, echoed just how profound those simple, one-syllable words were. They still are. The song's brass-band fanfare - sounding like some sort of international anthem - intensifies the memory of the lads trying to lead the world in singing the same song.
Amidst flashbacks to some great musical performances by an assortment of still-youthful icons-to-be, the CNN documentary was part of 50th anniversary hoopla throughout the media marking the Beatles' debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show." That moment was the advent of the '60s, the renaissance of American culture, our once-in-a-lifetime perfect alignment between art and the dramatically changing times in which it was being created.
Gerard Marti at Celebrites Gallery is keeping the '60s alive, showing works in different media - the visual arts - by John, Paul and Ringo. His gallery in the Shops at Wailea is a place where ephemeral rock 'n' roll moments are permanently captured in the creative amber of painting and concert photography. Current resident rock idols like Steven Tyler and Mick Fleetwood are among the contributors to the visual concert always going on in his gallery.
Art's role in mirroring its times - especially when those times span decades - was brought home by a couple of other legendary Maui guys, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, in their cool performance at the Grammys a couple of weeks ago.
George Clooney's new movie, "The Monuments Men," recalls a World War II mission by gallery curators and architects to rescue classic artistic masterpieces stolen by the Nazis. Seeing the movie on a visit to Oahu last weekend, after paying a visit to Pearl Harbor that morning, once again showed art's role in providing a historical record.
Clooney's jaunty romp co-starring Matt Damon and an international A-list of co-stars is entertaining enough, but it takes lots of liberties, feeling more like "The Guns of Navarone" or "The Great Escape," some favorite but not-entirely-accurate movie adventures of my boyhood.
The timespan goes back further - centuries echoing eons - in Schaefer International Gallery's new exhibit, "Mohala Hou Ke Kapa: Kapa Blossoms Anew," at the MACC. Spearheaded by Maui's Marie McDonald to showcase living artisans of this painstaking practice, the statewide exhibit features the work of other artists along with hers: Maile Andrade, Solomon Apio, R. A'ia'i Bello, Ka'iulani de Silva, Moana Eisele, Denby Freeland-Cole, Mililani Hanapi, Roen Hufford, Sabra Kauka, Gail Kuba, Pualani Maielua Lincoln, Marques Marzan, Vicki McCarty, U'ilani Naho'olewa, Terry Reveira, Lisa Schattenburg-Raymond, Wesley Sen, Emily Kaliko Spenser, Verna Takashima and Dalani Tanahy.
Roots of this art form stretch back into Hawaiian mythology to the mo'olelo of demigod Maui on the slopes of Haleakala fashioning a rope from coconut tree fibers, then lassoing the sun to slow its ascent through the sky long enough for his mother, the goddess Hina, to dry her kapa.
The sense of fashioning raw natural material into something essential, artistic and mythical - and telling a great story in the process - is the operating principle running through this exhibit. Works on display encompass clothing, hangings, implements, plants, representational images and flights of fantasy. Only a few pieces are historic. The rest are new, bringing the art form back from near extinction at the end of the 19th century. Historic photos, and an illuminating new video by Kaliko and Jonathan Spenser, bring viewers into "The House for Beating Kapa," weaving past and present into the strong, timeless fabric of Hawaiian culture.
Blazing new trails where that culture may be headed, TEDxMaui founder Katie McMillan, producer Sara Tekula and technology director Peter Liu have announced the addition of Sarah Rupenthal as community liaison and Emma White as speaker liaison as they bring this visionary gathering back to the MACC on Sept. 28.
Instead of using art to reacquaint us with our past, TEDxMaui offers glimpses of future possibilities. As always, all you need is love. In the present tense.
* Rick Chatenever, former entertainment and features editor of The Maui News, is a freelance journalist, instructor at UH-Maui College and Emmy-nominated scriptwriter. Contact him at email@example.com or 344-9535.