Meet the Artists: Victor Lopez Orozco
By Na Heona Molokai
Na Heona Molokai (Artists of Molokai) is a group creating an exhibition titled “No Stop Light: Molokai” for the 3,600 square foot Downtown Art Center in Honolulu, in May 2022. In the coming months, we will introduce each artist.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Victor Lopez Orozco. I am from Mexico, and I have been on Molokai almost 26 years.
What brought you to Molokai?
I came to build fences for Molokai Ranch. I worked there for about three years and after then the crew moved to Honolulu or Big Island, but I decided I like Molokai. I never did go in the ocean before and the first time I went in the ocean here, I met Bill Kapuni through his dive business. Bill taught me to go underwater to do free diving, snorkeling and scuba diving. I see a whole different world down there, and I fall in love with marine animals.
How did you become an artist?
So then Bill Kapuni, Hawaiian artist, began teaching me how to make Hawaiian drums and work with wood. The first piece I made was a shark with real teeth in the mouth. After that I was working on a whale when Kamakana Gallery heard I had one piece and I told them, “I no like,” but they keep asking me for display. Maybe one or two months later a collector came from Kauai, and he bought both my pieces. The gallery called and said” we got a check for you.” I said, “Wow, I cannot believe somebody bought my two first pieces,” so I started making more. After that we started going to Ka Hula Piko and all the events here. We went to Bishop Museum and did a class for 25 people. We got invited to International Festival of Canoes in Lahaina, and we used to go and work on drums. We used to go every year. After that they invited me to do Hula o Na Keiki. So every year they invite me make one drum each for the boys and girls competition. We would make five or six drums to sell and every year I bring one extra drum for display and in no time I filled up the whole lobby of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel.
What do you use for the tops of your drums?
I use rawhide, cowhide. I have tried deer and elk and shark skins. Shark skins work well but are very fragile so cannot pull it real tight.
What do you do besides make art?
I learned how to be a tree trimmer. My business name is Molokai Wood Carver. I travel all the islands to trim trees. I can cut any tree, but coconut trees are my specialty.
What are you making for the exhibition in May?
I am making several drums and maybe a breaching whale, a turtle, a shark, dolphin or a monk seal. I make some nice ulua fish. So I might surprise everybody.
What do you do for fun?
My favorite thing to do was be a pig hunter. We no more forests like this in Mexico. I used to go two or three times a week.