Cut From The Same DIFFERENT Cloth

It’s been a while since Folio Weekly spoke with Hiromi Moneyhun, and the Kyoto, Japan-born paper cut artist has been exceedingly busy. From installations at the exclusive State of the Art exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas to the city of St. Augustine’s Obelisk 450 event, to shows in Augusta, Georgia and Del Ray Beach, Moneyhun’s already prolific production levels have been put to the test, cementing her status as of one of the Southeast’s most in-demand artists. Even so, she’s remained deeply connected to her adopted hometown, participating in some of Northeast Florida’s most noteworthy exhibits of the past few years, like Reflections: Artful Perspectives on the St. Johns River and LIFT: Contemporary Expressions of the African American Experience (both at the Cummer). She even led students in kirie (paper cutting art) instruction as The Bolles School’s artist in residence during February 2016.

It’s a workload that Moneyhun has been more than happy to take on, but one that the self-taught artist might not have imagined when she moved to Jacksonville in the early 2000s. Though she began developing her own paper-cut style inspired from Edo period Japanese woodblock prints when she was a teenager, Moneyhun was developing her craft in relative obscurity—showcasing her intricate, super-modern creations at small, non-traditional art spaces, when she met local artists Mark Creegan and Dustin Harewood. After seeing Moneyhun’s work at the Open Road Bicycles, Creegan and Harewood–both FSCJ professors–organized Moneyhun’s first solo show at the school’s Kent Campus Gallery.

“There are many talented artists in Jacksonville who don’t necessarily have access to galleries at academic institutions,” said Harewood of his initiative for finding and showcasing new or obscure local artists. “Someone’s got to be actively looking out for those talents who may have not yet figured out how to meet and socialize with the socialites–those fantastic artistic introverts who aren’t necessarily plugged into the Jacksonville ‘scene.’”

In Moneyhun, Harewood–whose abstract, textural kaleidoscopes of coral, Japanese folk demons, and newsprint have made him another in-demand artist–found an artist tuned to a similar frequency.

“I think that Hiromi and I share very similar tastes, even though the work itself physically doesn’t draw immediate obvious connections,” said Harewood.

The two distinctive artists will be sharing wall space at Bold Bean Coffee Roasters San Marco, beginning Saturday, Oct. 21. The installation Garden, Temple, God showcases each artist’s own contemplation of the natural interpretations of phenomena often viewed through a more supernatural lens here in the West. It’s a broad theme Moneyhun says Harewood suggested after seeing some of her work.

“Hiromi’s recent work has been dealing a lot with religious architecture both Japanese and European,” Harewood said. “My work [lately] has been concerned with our relationships to our higher and lower selves and the environment. The show title just popped into my head.”

“I think that neither [Dustin nor I] contemplate the supernatural aspect of these terms,” Moneyhun added. “But instead I think we think of these things as a natural part of life, mystical but not in the sense of what mysticism means here in the West, with all of its references to a possible afterlife and all that stuff. Japan is the home of Zen. Zen may be seen as mystical, especially by Westerners–many of whom may also consider it to be a bunch of hocus-pocus–but we Japanese see it as no more mystical than the growth of a plant or the decomposition of a dead body. Mother nature is the ultimate mystic.”

And although each artist has a unique style, the influence of Japanese art and culture is an obvious overlap between the two. Harewood’s wife is Japanese and he spends part of each year there.

“Dustin and I have similar aesthetic tastes,” Moneyhun said. “It could be the Japanese influence, but I do draw inspiration from his work in general. I mean that I’m inspired by the quality and integrity of his work.

“It’s kind of like when Jacob Dylan was asked during an interview if he was influenced by the music of his father, and he replied, ‘So let me get this straight. You’re asking me if I, as a musician of the late 20th century, have been influenced by the music of Bob Dylan?’

“I think that anyone who has seen Dustin’s work will be influenced by it in one way or another, to some degree. It’s that good.”

Aside from producing work for the show, Moneyhun and Harewood drew on the Garden, Temple, Gun theme to collaborate on a commemorative zine, which will be available for purchase at the opening. And although they were tuned to the same frequency, Harewood says they’re leaving it up to the viewer to decide where to turn his or her own dial.  

“It’s up to you and the rest of the viewers to decide whether or not our collaboration makes sense or not,” he said. “But I can say, with no reservations, that it makes perfect sense to me.”