Long Standing Tenants, 1977
According to Jill Cost's studio records, Long Standing Tenants was the first major oil painting of Curtis' professional career. In it you can see the foreshadowing of many works to come. The use of the foreground rock walls to lead the eye across the hill towards the center of interest is a compositional device used in Quiet Moment, another important painting to come decades later. Also of note is the subtle light dynamics shown in the shadow across the foreground. Looking ahead at more recent works, you can see how these early indications of a strong light source would emerge and become a prominent signature of the work. This and the more obvious elements, the sweeping vista, the cluster of plantation buildings, evolved into Cost's recognizable motif in Hawaiian fine art esthetics. This is a significant and important piece in a career that helped to shape an era in art both in Hawaii and on the mainland.
"I look back with great nostalgia on this piece. It takes me back quite a few years. It's interesting how an image can open up a doorway with all the attendant feelings from a place and time that I thought I'd long forgotten. They waft through like a fragrance on the breeze."