Volcano Art Center celebrates the life and art of Dietrich Varez

  • Courtesy image “Pu‘inokolu a Hina” by Dietrich Varez.

  • Courtesy image “Pouli” (“Eclipse”) by Dietrich Varez.

  • Courtesy image “Pele Over VAC” by Dietrich Varez.

  • Courtesy photo Dietrich Varez pictured with his paintings.

Volcano Art Center announces a very special event from 1-3 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 13) to honor the life, art and legacy of Dietrich Varez, who died Aug. 14 in Hilo.

The public is invited to attend a casual gathering to bid aloha to the man who carved a deep appreciation and understanding of Hawaiian values and lifestyle through his art and writings. Varez was a husband, father, friend, artist and author.

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Varez is best known for his extensive collection of linoleum-block and screen printed images, of which more than 250 have been published. Each image would begin with reading and research. A particularly colorful or visual passage in a legend was often the stimulus.

Based on oral traditions, some of the images produced by Varez can be viewed as the first visualizations of these myths and legends.

Shunning publicity and working in simple fashion, Varez shaped his strong personal expression of Hawaii. By nature a quiet and private man, he lived with his wife, Linda (also a noted painter), in a remote rain forest setting near Volcano. Several miles of poor roads preserved the tranquility and privacy required for his prolific collection of block prints, original paintings and books to be created.

The subject matter in most of Varez’s work is inspired by traditional Hawaiian legends, integrating mythological figures into scenes with flora and fauna typical of the diverse Hawaiian environment. He boldly outlines the adventures and passions of his Hawaiian cast of characters in his direct and unmistakable style.

Varez was greatly influenced by the early printmakers of Japan and shared their belief that art is for the people. For more than 40 years, he produced new print images year after year, personally printed each image by hand, refused to number his prints and maintained extremely affordable prices.

In Varez’s own words: “I’ve made many fans and friends abiding by this philosophy of availability. Prints make it possible to bring art into the life of almost everyone.”

He reluctantly retired from his printmaking process in 2016.

His print images continue to be offered as fine art giclee reproductions at affordable pricing through the Varez Legacy Program offered by the Volcano Art Center. The Legacy Program also offers a beginning printmaking class every Monday at VAC, using linoleum blocks hand-carved by Varez.

The books he illustrated and authored also are still available at the VAC Gallery in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Petroglyph Press in Hilo. Varez’s work will be recognized for years to come — his is spirit will live on through his works.

Volcano Art Center encourages all those touched by Varez’s story as told through his prints, paintings, books and illustrations to attend the celebration event in Dietrich Varez Hall at VAC’s Ni‘aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Refreshments will be provided.

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VAC will be collecting condolences and sentiments of appreciation to share with the Varez ohana. Monetary donations for the Varez Legacy Program as well as live plants for the Varez homestead also will be accepted.

For more information, contact Emily C. Weiss at 967-8222 or gallery@volcanoartcenter.org.

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