When Holualoa Artist Hiroki Morinoue's grandmother, Mitsuru Mizukami, purchased this property it included the residence in back, which was the original Japanese Association Hall. It was built in 1923 by the first generation of Japanese "Iseei" volunteers with the vision of community builder, Dr. Saburo Hayashi, whose home and office were across the road.
Morinoue Laundry was established in 1942; and in 1950 the new building, which featured a pool hall, was built. Sakuichi Morinoue was known as the best pool player throughout the territory and many players came to challenge him ~ but lost and went home. The 1955 Buick out from in this photo shows times were good. The pool hall was a gathering place for the old-timer coffee pickers during the off-season. It was also an important place during the good and difficult years for the villagers.
The south room and downstairs spaces was designed as a Laundromat for Ayako Mizukami-Morinoue, Hiroki's mother. She had him most of the time while she was working at her shop. Since he was 3 years old he was given craft paper, which his mother used for wrapping laundry, to keep him busy with drawing. His art career began with Bob and Carol Rogers at the Kona Art Center in 1967.
Hiroki married Setsuko Watanabe and together they established Studio 7 Fine Arts Gallery in November 1979, as the first and now longest standing contemporary art gallery in Hawaii. A humble space in a small village with a charmed history, the gallery holds an open-ended mission: to create and promote Contemporary Art. The first two decades, the gallery promoted local emerging artists such as Chiu Leong, Wilfred Yamasawa, Nick Mitchell, Megan Mitchell, Diane Moore, Randy Takaki, Gerald Ben, Nora Yamanoha, Glenn Yamanoha, Jan Bovard, Jeera Rattanangkoon, Catherine Merrill, Moses (master paper hat maker), and Clayton Amemiya alongside their own artwork. Studio 7 served as a stepping-stone for many local contemporary artists and their careers.
When the Kona Art Center finally closed its doors in 2001 with no future for the art center to continue, Hiroki and Setsuko felt a need to recreate an art center in their community. In 1995, Hiroki and Setsuko’s dedication to the arts and education lead them to become co-founding members of Holualoa Foundation for Arts & Culture. They were instrumental in the development and in 2002 the community opened a permanent place called the Donkey Mill Art Center (DMAC). The building was an old coffee mill, perfect for art. DMAC is an education center that offers art-making opportunities to children and adults including an artist-in-residence program. Much of their inspiration came from ‘Uncle’ Bob and ‘Aunty’ Carol Rogers who founded the Kona Arts Center in Holualoa in 1967. Over the years, Setsuko and Hiroki held positions on the Board of Director, built up the Children’s Program, Volunteer Program, Clay, Printmaking and Artist Lecture Demonstrations/workshops and spear headed the vital annual fundraising platforms such as Cool Fusion and the Art Auction. The Mill continues to hosts numerous national and international artists and has become a bustling center of artistic activity in the state of Hawaii.
“It is our turn to give back to the community with hopes of inspiring and encouraging our youth to do their best in their lives and for the community through ART.” says Setsuko.
Studio 7 Fine Arts Gallery continues to promote contemporary art focusing on the extensive works of Hiroki Morinoue, Setsuko Watanabe-Morinoue, their daughter Miho Morinoue and other local artists.
Walking through the gallery is an abstract journey of wonder, curiosity, and internal reflection. The Zen like stepping blocks paces your inner rhythm and allows ones eyes and heart to adjusts to the environmental experience of art, architecture and interior design.