Dieter Runge lives and works on Oahu, where he makes art and music, teaches taiji and yoga and cooks Ayurvedic food, which he also teaches. School year 2015/16, Dieter taught Elementary School art at Ka’elepulu Elementary School in Kailua. 2014/15 he was president of the Honolulu Printmakers. In 2012 he taught printmaking workshops in Colorado and New York City. Dieter holds a Master of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Hawaii (2008), and a bachelors in both psychology and art from the University of Hawaii (2003).
Deiter grew up in Germany and has lived in locations all over the world such as New York City and US Virgin Islands. He currently resides in Hawaii. He has studied qi gong and taiji with Mantak Chia, T.K. Shih, Jannette Chi and Zeng Chen Dong, and Yoga with Myra Lewin. While living in New York, Dieter wrote, recorded and produced several vinyl records and realized various videos. At present, Dieter focuses on painting and a yogic and ayurvedic lifestyle. He also creates wood block prints, writes and records music, and works in other odd jobs like painting houses. He goes kitesurfing with friends when the conditions are excellent.
William Kelly on Dieter Runge and the East Village
William wrote this essay in 2008 when I got ready for my thesis exhibition, which was called “Festival of Patience” and the beginning of my old blog by the same name.
As the East Village art scene rode in on the last wave of late seventies Lower East Side Punk, artists flocked to the area by the promise of cheap rents and artistic community. Economic necessity served not only as a catalyst of the movement’s beginning but drove its development in the form of the Do-It-Yourself (“DIY”) ethos. Living, creating, exhibiting and sharing were all informed by minimal means. No longer an excuse to wait for the corporate cultural gatekeepers to allow you to make and show your art, painters painted on street walls, exhibited in apartments and tiny store fronts, musicians recorded on 4 track cassette machines, pressed and distributed their own records; writers and poets published in cut-up photocopied magazines, filmmakers shot with Super-8 cameras and showed their films on the nearest white wall. This shared aesthetic–and indeed ethic–extended to all the arts and helped to realize that promise of a vibrant artistic community.
At one time over 50 galleries functioned in an area of little more than a dozen blocks. It became the norm to see on just about any night of the week crowds with drinks and cigarettes spilling out onto the streets at openings. (A freelance writer friend went for two years without spending any money on food and booze by attending gallery openings.) Add the many bars and clubs which often exhibited (and sold) art besides showcasing music, performance and films, a breakdown of traditional barriers among exhibition spaces became inevitable. But the walls between the art forms themselves blurred as well. Painters, dancers, filmmakers, photographers, poets and of course musicians couldn’t help but influence each other by living, working and exhibiting in such a concentrated (if not the same) space. Whatever one’s take on this short lived neo-expressionist movement — Positive or negative? An influence on art itself or on the business of art?– doesn’t change the fact that the East village art scene has had an impact far out of proportion to its relatively short life span and small size.
When I first met Dieter Runge in September 1987, this scene was still in its heyday but not for much longer. In less than a year the Tompkins Square Park riot would occur–the event most of us saw as the beginning of the end. The occasion for my meeting Dieter arose from a suggestion by a mutual friend, Steven Wren, that I might be able to help with a stalled music video project. I edited the footage which became the Step Into the Fire music video and commenced a fruitful working collaboration, and a lasting friendship.
As I got to know Dieter, I realized he was a bit of a character who seemed to know practically everyone in the East Village while just about everyone in the East Village seemed to know him. And why not? He had a great story people loved to hear: arrival on a $99 Freddie Laker one way flight as an illegal immigrant, wanting to experience first hand the mecca of punk music–the lower east side; living in a flop house near Times Square while learning English by watching television all hours of the day; then, making it downtown to St Mark’s place, living in the old Electric Circus building and working in Trash and Vaudeville, a celebrated used clothing store; and, of course, playing rock’n’roll.
Many, myself included, found so appealing in Dieter an openness, a willingness to try something, almost anything, whether an idea or a technique. For a time he worked at the perfect meeting place, Banditos, a small Mexican restaurant on Second Ave whose lethal margaritas made it one of the chief brain-cell-killer centers for musicians and artists, a perfect location to meet people. He must have introduced hundreds of area denizens to each other resulting in other artistic endeavors and friendships. Small wonder then, his album, East of Eden, contains some of the best musicians of the East Village community.
Dieter has always been something of an obsessive. I got my first glimpse of this when he showed me 365 photos of himself which he took over the course of one year–one photo each day. I was stunned as much by the simplicity of the idea as by its audacity and the discipline it required. Until that moment I’d always associated Dieter exclusively with music. This was the beginning of my awareness of his visual acuity. It wasn’t long after that that he was asking me about shooting and editing film. The next thing I knew, he made an impressionist bike messenger film he cut to his song, Mystik Mood.
Of the many the paths within Dieter’s life’s way one of the most important and long lasting is Tai Chi. I’ll never forget one winter evening in 1990 when he dragged me to a studio on Broadway south of Canal street to a Tai Chi class taught by a lovely woman named Jennette. It would leave an indelible impression; a year later I began studying another marital art and still study after 17 years. Credit, or blame, Dieter for that one. One of the chief tenets of Tai Chi is “sticking,” wherein you stick to your opponent. Dieter is great at “sticking.” If, as the saying goes, your greatest opponent is yourself, then Dieter has stuck to that opponent and pushed himself forward to develop and grow in so many ways–music, martial arts, big wave windsurfing, and astonishingly, the visual arts. Combining patience and perseverance, two more key tenets of martial arts, with an antithetical East Village orientation makes for a unique synthesis in Dieter.
During what now seems a rather short period, Dieter and I collaborated on two more music videos, Pain of Love and November 18th. Since then I’ve been involved in other collaborations, but working with Dieter on those two videos was one of the best creative collaborations I’ve had in terms of the work and the human interaction. Despite the no-budget conditions, we used whatever we had and managed in these videos to capture something of the time, and to express a bit of our take on the world. Although not exactly typical of the era’s in-your-face-neo-expressionism, the DIY spirit informs every frame of these videos.
That Dieter developed into such a superb visual artist later in life than most is a testament to his patience and perseverance as well as an inspiration to us all to understand it’s never too late to learn something new, and to not give up. Dieter Runge not only survived, he moves on and thrives. And now, with the aptly titled, Festival of Patience, he continues building community with new collaborators, reuniting with old friends and creative partners in the good fight to move forward. We celebrate that patience. And sticking.
-William Kelly, 2008
William Kelly is a writer, film maker and professor who still lives in New York’s East Village. Check out his brilliant new series How to Train Squirrel Martial Artists on youtube.
Talking about New York a while ago William said: “In the 80’s New York was inclusive. Now it’s exclusive.”
44-415 Kaneohe Bay Drive, Kaneohe, HI 96744
MFA 2008 Painting University of Hawaii
BA 2003 Art University of Hawaii
BA 2003 Psychology University of Hawaii
2003 Phi Beta Kappa
Areas of Specialization: Painting, Printmaking, Performance, Installation,
Sound, Video, Yoga, Taiji.
2010 Yoga Teacher certification
2011/12 Member Board of Directors Honolulu Printmakers
2013/14 Vice President Honolulu Printmakers
December 2011 The Stations of the Cross, Church of the
Epiphany, Honolulu, also various private commissions.
Oct/Nov 2013 The Art of Yoga Installation, Yoga Hawaii
August 2013 Yoga Hawaii, pop-up art show.
June 2013 Culture Pop-up, Black Cat Salon, Honolulu
Jan/Feb 2013 100 Woodblock prints, Talbot Café, San
November 2012 ‘Impressions’ installation at Museum Art
July 2012 100 x 12 Woodblock prints, A Haa School for
the Arts, Telluride, CO
January 2010 ‘portraits’, Café Tartine, San Francisco, CA
Dec-Feb 2009/10 ‘Rock’n Roll Revelation’, Contemporary
Museum Café, Honolulu
April 2008 Festival of Patience, MFA Thesis exhibition,
University of Hawaii
November 2006 Tung Ying Kit Tai Chi Chuan Alumni
International Gathering, Hong Kong
May/June 2005 Hamilton Library, University of Hawaii
September 2004 Soullenz Studio, Honolulu
Jan/Feb/Mar 2004 Hamilton Library, University of Hawaii
July/August 2013 Hi Tides, Arts at Marks, Honolulu,
March/April 2013 Print Bigger, Arts at Marks, Honolulu,
Dec/Jan 2012/13 Honolulu Printmakers, Horace Mann School,
New York City
Sept/Oct 2012 The Bike Show, Arts at Marks Garage,
February 2011 Honolulu Printmaker’s Annual Exhibition
October 2010 Caution, Hunger, Thirst, Koa Gallery, Honolulu
February 2010 Honolulu Printmaker’s Annual Exhibition
November 2009 Compress, Arts at Marks Garage, Honolulu
January 2008 Graduate Exhibition, University of Hawaii
March 2007 Wanderings, Gallery on the Pali. Honolulu
Feb/March 2007 79th Annual Honolulu Printmakers Exhibition
February 2007 The Art of the Brush, University of Hawaii
Jan/Feb 2007 The Art, Graduate Exhibition, University of
December 2006 Discursions, University of Hawaii
July 2006 Roger Smith Arts, New York City
June – September 2006 Subzero Showroom, Honolulu
April 2006 Awards-show, University of Hawaii
December 2005 Graduate Show, University of Hawaii
June – September 2005 Subzero Showroom, Honolulu
January 2005 The Gallery on the Pali Honolulu
October 2003 Soullenz Studio, Honolulu
Gallery: Cedat Street Gallery, Honolulu
Joleen Oshiro, “The Art.’ Honolulu Star Bulletin, February 11, 2007
Marcia Morce, ‘The Graduates.’ Honolulu Weekly, February 7, 2007
Timothy Dyke, “dis jointed exhibit.” Honolulu Advertiser,
February 4, 2007
Jacquelyn Carberry, “UH students exhibit art in New York”,
Honolulu Star Bulletin, August 13, 2006
Lesa Griffith, “’Wanderings’ in New York a dream for UH students”,
Honolulu Advertiser, July 30, 2006
Marcia Morse, “On the map”,
Honolulu Weekly, July 26, 2006
Joleen Oshiro, “Mmm!”, Honolulu Star Bulletin, June 11, 2006
David C. Farmer, “Artists, too, see summer as time for fun”,
Honolulu Advertiser, June 26, 2005
“The Art of Tai Chi”, Honolulu Star Bulletin,
October 26, 2003
Awards, Grants & Fellowships
H. John Heide Fellowship in Art, 2006
Teaching taiji quan and qi gong
Kailua Rec Center, Kaneohe Senior Rec Center, Heiia State
Park, Osher Lifelong Learning Center, UH Manoa
August 2013 to present. Substitute teaching for the DOE Windward
December 2012 Guest teacher (printmaking), Horace Mann School,
New York City
July 2012 Wood block printing, A Haa School for the Arts,
Spring 2010 Consciousness and the Arts, Psy 403/625, University
of Hawaii. Co teaching with Sam Shappiro
1949-70 Born in Hannover, West-Germany, School, Apprenticeship
1970-71 Military Service
1971-78 Continuing Education (Paedagogische Hochschule, 4 Semesters), Political
Engagement (Youth Center Kornstrassse, Independent bookstore collective, Group
1978-88 Emigration to New York, singer/songwriter, recordings, videos,
performances, student of Taiji, Meditation, manager (clothing store, restaurant),
1988-1990 Virgin Islands. Building experimental Windsurfing Equipment, racing,
1990-present Oahu, Hawaii, Teaching: Windsurfing, Kitesurfing, Taiji, Yoga, Art,