Alfred Furtado, 1930-2012

Jul. 19, 2012 | 2 Comments
<em>One of Alfred Furtado's many works of art depicting hula dancers in motion. (Courtesy photo)</em>

One of Alfred Furtado's many works of art depicting hula dancers in motion. (Courtesy photo)


Alfred Furtado built a long career in Hawaii in the commercial art field, but he was perhaps best known for his vibrant paintings of hula dancers in motion.

<em>Alfred Furtado. (Courtesy photo)</em>

Alfred Furtado. (Courtesy photo)

Furtado, whose career included a decade as art director at the Honolulu Advertiser from 1986 to 1995, died Tuesday of brain cancer at the Arcadia retirement residence. He was 81.

Furtado was born Sept. 4, 1930, in Braintree, Mass. After serving in the military, he went to art school in 1953 on the G.I. Bill at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. During his education, he worked nights at the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper and eventually spent a few years in the paper’s Sunday Home section.

In 1960, Furtado moved to Hawaii, and except for a two-year return to California, he spent the next 25 years living and working in Hawaii for GEM department store and opening his own graphic design firm, The Art Department.

During his early years in Hawaii he met hula dancer Lei Becker, and in 1966 the two took a trip to Las Vegas to marry. It was Lei’s ties to the hula community that inspired Furtado’s future paintings. Luau held by the Beamer and Desha families, where hula was danced regularly and to which the Furtados were invited, were events the artist kept in his memory. When he retired in 1995, Furtado painted his remembrances of those gatherings.

<em>Another example of Furtado's art. (Courtesy photo)</em>

Another example of Furtado's art. (Courtesy photo)

“Al’s work always exudes a cheerfulness, not only in color, but it captures a relaxed, happy joyfulness,” said Michael Schnack, owner of Cedar Street Gallery, where Furtado’s art is sold. “His work has great movement and emotion to it.”

Furtado’s paintings are also part of the lineup at Haleiwa Art Gallery and Martin & MacArthur.

Furtado’s son, Jeff Annon, said that when his father was in a nursing home in the spring, he never stopped wanting to make art.

“He kept saying, ‘Take me home. I need to paint.’ He definitely wanted to get back to it.”

Furtado is survived by his wife, Lei; sister, Carol Marino; daughters Bambi Furtado and Wendy Spalding; and one granddaughter, Katrina Layne. Services will be held 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Borthwick Mortuary.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the American Cancer Society.

  • Wayne

    Mr. Furtado was also teaching at Honolulu Community College’s Commercial Art Department in the late 70s…..he was VERY fair and a VERY OUTSTANDING teacher!  Thank you Mr. Furtado for your helpful critiques and being one of my favorite teachers!  

  • Barbara Ricksen

    We loved Al’s paintings and I have some in my home. Was just going to order another for my bath. Sorry to hear he has passed away. His paintings brought a smile to my face.