History of HWS
The Hawai`i Watercolor Society was founded by noted Hawai`i artist Hon Chew Hee. Hee was born in Kahului on Maui in 1906 but was raised in China. He learned Chinese brush painting there then returned to the U.S. to study at the San Francisco Art Institute where he won top academic honors. He later gained additional training in New York at the Art Students League and Columbia University, and in Paris in the 1940s with Fernand Leger and Andre L'Hote.
After teaching in China, Hee returned to Hawai`i in 1935 where he worked as an artist and teacher. Over the course of his career, he exhibited his paintings nationally and internationally including at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and the National Academy of Design in New York, and the Galerie Ariel in Paris. The Honolulu Academy of Arts holds works by Hee in its permanent collection. A versatile painter and printmaker, in 1962 Hee founded the Hawai`i Watercolor and Serigraphy Society. He was honored as Artist of the Year by the Hawai`i State Legislature in 1986. In 1987, the Society dedicated its 25th Silver Jubilee Exhibition to him. Hee died in 1993.
Today Hee's legacy is carried on by the Hon Chew Hee Estate Foundation which continues to fund our biannual Best in Show awards. We are grateful to them for their continuing support.
In 1991, in recognition of their dedication to our organization, HWS gave Honorary Life Membership status to Karin Latham and Jeanne Robertson. In 2004, in recognition of their long service as Workshop Chairs, HWS gave Honorary Life Membership status to Helen Iaea and Rita Gustie.