Larry Ball

A Few Random Thoughts On Samoa’s One Man Show

Nobody who’s anybody ever seriously contended that life is “fair” or that its surprises would be a continuous unfolding of splendid miracles right out of an ancient book recounting such events.  Rather, as life reveals to even its most oblivious spectators, the disconnectedness of a caring universal arbiter of the human story is the theme that separates a childish fantasy from the scientific, though incomplete, explanations of what the Hell might be going on in this baffling mystery that includes a something we call existence which is surely different than the nothingness that might otherwise have easily prevailed.

In other words, why is there something rather than nothing?  Perhaps, all human expression, in one way or another, grapples with that one big ultimately unanswerable question.

And then there’s this issue of what we call “talent,” that special gift that some seem to have but which bypasses the common issue homo sapiens or that might actually be present in all of us but is never discovered in most.  To see the world in a grain of sand is to notice the wonder that is everywhere, always and forever was.  To translate that perception, to detail its wonder and to stand in awe of the humdrum of the swirling sensations life affords, its relationships and connections between all that is in a manner of acknowledgment that most walk right on by is the artist’s most valuable benefaction.

Samoa “Sammy” Moriki, though untrained formally, has the artist’s eye and an aptitude that is raw, absolutely authentic and completely natural in a singular way.  He must have been born that way.  (This induces within me an envy that will never be sated though one week on Mt. Shasta I did teach him to ski – which he was doing as well as I ever did after just a few days.)  A translator of the everyday into something between the cartoon of the constant noise of the streets and the divine revelation of the harmonies from celestial spheres in each passing “ordinary” moment is his actual subject.

There is, indeed, a universal spirit expressing humanity’s higher impulses in this Hiroshima born artist who exists, coincidentally, only because on the day of the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima near the end of WW2 his parents had taken a long drive to the countryside for a weekend picnic away from the already starving metropolis.  From this odd quirk of happenstance was born the star of the Howl’s intense political commentary division set to open January 10, 2018 – assuming our own Orange Genghis doesn’t destroy the planet first.  We can only hope. 

Politics, celebrity, humor, pathos, irony and open revulsion in Samoa’s works are combined to captivate even the most casual observer.  Andy Warhol’s “Campbell Soups,” his “Brillo Boxes” and the “Bananas” on the cover of the Velvet Underground’s first album  are only a short hop and and a skip as far as intelligent pop,inspirations…. the never imitative Mr. Moriki can not be denied.

The emphasis of circumstance and the role of particular individuals throughout the world’s history pale in comparison to the mystery that there is anything at all for us to still remember or to ponder.  While Samoa “Sammy” Moriki was only a glint of an unformed aspiration in his parents’ eyes as they set up their picnic blanket on May 6, 1945 the horror of nuclear  annihilation was sparked a scant 50 miles away and the world has never been the same.