Jozuf Hadley’s “Contemporary Tribal” assemblage sculptures reflect the art and themes of the indigenous peoples of Oceania.
He finds materials for his sculpture anywhere from Hawaii’s beaches to household attic collections.
Jozuf Hadley, as Bradajo (Brother Joe), writes and records poetry and lyric tales in Hawaii’s grass roots folk talk we call Pidgin. He has published six books and nine CD recordings of this work, and he presents by invitation to schools, colleges, and professional groups.
Born on the “Garden Island” of Kaua’i, Hawaii, I absorbed my family’s love for pristine nature as well as the arts, the music, and the mysterious spiritual ways of the indigenous peoples of Oceania.
But it was art history in Art college that awakened a great appreciation for the depths within us from which art comes, and supreme gratitude for the very power and magnitude of what we call creativity, forever present and accessible.
So I pursue this “magic”, allowing arrangements to appear before me through the combining and juxtaposing of natural objects and salvaged things manmade, ranging from children’s blocks and wooden tools to pieces of fine Asian art. It is this concentration of time-toned materials which tantalizes my sensibilities and urges me on into the mystery.
EDUCATION AND SHOWS
- Bachelor of Art Education: California College of Arts & Crafts, Oakland 1961.
- Graduate study at University of Oregon, Eugene 1964-65.
- Solo exhibition of assemblage from shoreline findings: Crossroads Gallery, Honolulu 1968.
- MFA in Sculpture: University of Hawaii at Manoa 1970.
- Commissions for Figurecasting sculpture: Art in Public Places Program, Hawaii. State Foundation on Culture & the Arts 1970 and 1974.
- Commission for Figurecasting: Carl Lindquist, Hana, Maui 1975.
- Public high school teacher of Art & Theatre, 29 years.
- Commission for Figurecasting: Castleton State College, Vermont 1993.
- Exhibition of assemblage: Id Space Gallery, Hilo, Hawaii 2011.
- Assemblage selected for juried show: Hawaii Craftsmen, Honolulu 2011.
- Exhibition of assemblage: SKEA Gallery, Honaunau, Hawaii 2011 to present.
- Exhibition of assemblage: Living Arts Gallery, Hawi, Hawaii 2012.
- Exhibition of assemblage: Kahilu Theatre & Gallery, Waimea, Hawaii 2016.
- Member, Board of Directors: Society for Kona Arts & Education (SKEA) 2012 to present.
To inquire about purchase of Jozuf Hadley’s sculptures or his books and CD recordings of Pidgin poetry, please email email@example.com, or contact him directly at
by Stephen Freedman
When I first heard the voice of Jozuf Hadley, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. A rusty voice intoned lilting rhythms, singsong pitch accented haunting lyrics, resolving in miraculous epiphanies. I was amazed, astounded and baffled. How could someone speaking in pidgin possibly succeed in communicating that mystical ‘sense of place and time’ which poets through the ages have sought to cage in adjectives, similes and homilies?
Struggling through iambic pentameter, or the mesmerizing lamentations of Ginsberg’s Howl, we expect sophistication to emerge from complexity. Language is one of those human prerogatives that distinguish us from other animals. Newborn, we grunt and howl as expressively, imperatively and instinctively as any other animal, but with time and leisure, our expressive range often decreases as evolving communities create specialized terms to describe the increasingly complex constructs of our cultures.
Pidgins arise from the most fundamental human need of peoples with different languages to communicate. They are grammatically simplified amalgamations, often technically limited to immediate needs and commonalities of the colliding cultures. At first glance, pidgins appear to involve generalities, perhaps incapable of expressing the subtle nuance of those creoles or lingua franca (bridge languages) in which truly fused languages become one.
Yet, pervading the ethers above and around us, Jozuf weaves stories–myths akin to the mystical structures of Basho Haiku. Sultry moments hanging in air like thick fog, precipitate down upon us like a tropical downpour. A universe appears, discovered by Polynesian paddlers from another century, barefoot children run through island mornings to clapboard missionary school, immigrants from a dozen countries, building myth and magic from castoff phrases, brought into being in a collusion of indigenous and influence, become inseparable.
When Jozuf stopped speaking, he towered above us for a moment like a genie prepared to return to his bottle, then shrunk down to human form, 5 and a half feet of bearded third generation Kaua’ian, speaking fluent erudite American English, a man I’d never met before. All I could think about was the voice that had just left the room.
Books and Media by Bradajo
Considered a classic in the Pidgin genre, the long out-of-print original that was distributed through Liberty House in 1972 was reissued in 2002. It includes tranlations of the title piece in the five languages from which Pidgin is derived. Then follows MA KET STENLE (My Cat Stanley) in addition to DA BEEGEENEEN (The Beginning), Bradajo’s awakening experience in the wilds of Kaua’i’s Waimea Canyon. Calligraphically rendered with 9 photos and CD narration.
SMALL KID TIME (audio CD collection, $20.00 for both)
Imagine an adventurous early-teens lad, influenced by comic books and scary movies of the late 1940’s, accompanying his Mom to the library on Thursday evenings. Lihu’e, a small sugar mill town, is now empty and silent; nobody around except two young rascals intent on climbing down into the now dark ice cream parlor! What’s this about the Green Hornet? Or Tarzan? Did this boy really create a Frankenstein? And what about a really long, cobwebbed tunnel deep in the middle of the jungle? Sound effects and music by John Heartson.
Kaua’i, oldest island of the Hawaiian chain, was still a veritable paradise in the 1930’s when Jozuf Hadley was born. How is one affected by living at the edge of a wild tropical rainforest, or among natural people (rural Hawaiians) on the pristine south shore at old Poipu? This 14 piece narrative puts you there.
This poem was drafted hastily on a small note pad shortly after my move to South Kona in 2007. It poses the term “yoga” as a call to be in the present moment with whatever is happening, or whatever we are doing. The accompanying CD narration includes as background music the exceptional Shakuhachi flute playing of the celebrated musician, Russ Appleyard.
HAIKU PIDGIN, 2008 $20.00
These poetic notes open and close with meditative surround-sound ocean as recorded at Kealakekua Bay, Big Island of Hawaii, by Richard Harrison of Grass Shack Records. Then the conch is blown in four directions by Greg Herbst, who then begins his ”contemplative guitar” background to Bradajo’s dialog with himself. This recording accompanied a Tinfish Press book in 2008 entitled TWO POEMS BY BRADAJO.
From Bradajo’s lifelong pursuit of the miraculous comes these nine episodes in the life of a certain rugged fisherman-carpenter whom we get to know afresh through Hawaii’s Pidgin talk; a new view of the “greatest story ever told”. Original slack-key guitar by Vinny Bryan in 1974, and by Will Wright in 2000.
SOME MORE ABOUT DA KAPENTA $20.00
Bradajo’s second series of Pidgin tales about DA KAPENTA offers a neutral ground for remembering the miraculous power within us all. The series culminates with perhaps the most supernatural event ever, The Resurrection. Here we are among those with him, even as he reappared in a different but visible form following the death of the body. Guitar by Chris Yeaton, flute by Russ Appleyard, and cello by Andy Rising.
Bradajo’s collaboration with the late “chicken-skin” Storyteller Glen Grant results in these 13 eerie tales that pose the question: Is there more to life than what you see? Spine tingling sound effects by Kit Ebersbach. A great Halloween gift.
Have you ever dropped out of the rush of your daily life to just sit there watching the creatures of our tropical Island nature? Like your cat suddenly swallowing WHOLE a leaping rat? Or viewing up-close the magnificence of a fly’s eye? Ever go to a back country Filipino camp, and watch while your favorite fighting rooster gets armed for mortal combat? What is meant here by MEDITATIVE TALK STORY? Is it not loosing one’s self in that which appears before us without our usual habit of projecting, interpreting, speculating, imagining, etcetera, and thus be one with what simply happens?
This assemblage of forty single-page poems was selected in 2002 from stacks of Pidgin jottings done over the years since 1969. These brief notes were mostly in response to a great variety of teachings we call “spiritual”. Readers are invited into the stillness that results if you choose to patiently puzzle-solve these calligraphic markings. In this way you participate in this art form, and you participate in preserving this fast-fading “soul talk” of the Hawaiian Islands. $20.00
This recording captures sixteen “observations” drawn from four decades of lyric Pidgin storytelling by Bradajo. They cover a wide range of penetrating, humorous and adventurous life experiences colored by his deep Isand roots. The selections begin and end with brief but thought-provoking essays that bring us into a deeper view of our inner selves.
It was only natural for Jozuf Hadley, a third generation Kauai’ian, to absorb the grass roots Pidgin spoken on the playground at old Lihu’e Grammar School. Later, as a teenager with a penchant for hamming it up in this dialect, it was Jozuf’s foster father who first called him Bradajo (Brother Joe). But it wasn’t until the late 1960’s, following a trek into Waimea Canyon (DA BEEGEENEEN), that the poetic notes he had been making in composition books suddenly shifted into a phonetic cursive which Island locals recognize as their grass roots soul talk.
Significantly more than words and pictures, ON UNVEILING, a “collection of scraps” by Jozuf Hadley, presents us with what appears to have contrary or incongruous elements. We open its pages to family photos, philosophical musings, found objects assemblages, drawings, published articles, costumed dramas, artistic collaborations, and Pidgin poetry that invites us to, as Ram Dass urged, “Be Here Now.” The book is a treasure chest, a patchwork quilt, a tapestry or, for digital natives, a power point presentation. It is the creation of an Island born sculptor, photographer, writer and poet, a teacher, and a swimmer who, after a 25 year absence, returns to Hawaii and pleasures in the present moment. Each page of ON UNVEILING reveals Hadley’s curiosity, creativity, and variety of talents. In the sharing of his life, the book shines a light on humanity, reflecting the spark of brilliance within us, and communicates the quiet joy of being.
Coral Lee Mack, Holualoa, Hawaii 2015
Former Senior Instructor
English Department Writing Program
University of Oregon, Eugene
To order Bradajo’s books and recordings, or to inquire about his speaking at your school, college, professional group or private gathering, please call 808 328 1212.
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Open studio, first and third Saturdays, March, April, May and June, 2017 (March 4 & 18, April 1 & 15, May 6 & 20, June 3 & 17). Hours 10 AM to 3PM, or by appointment. Phone 808 328 1212. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Location: 78-1021 Donkey Mill Road (Mokuaikaua Rd), Holualoa, Big Island of Hawaii 96725.