Juror 2004: George Ellis

George EllisJuror’s Statement: “My involvement with juried shows in Hawaii began in 1982. Since that time I have had the opportunity and honor of participating as a juror and organizer of exhibitions throughout Hawaii. Hawaiian artists are excellent and the work which is being produced in this state is certainly equal to and often better than any found on the mainland. In 1982 Artists of Hawaii was the only large juried show in the state. Art Maui was first presented in 1978 and its growth, both in size and quality is a direct reflection of the strength and professionalism of Maui’s artists and their important contribution to the arts here.

“I previously had the opportunity to serve as a juror for Art Maui and I was deeply impressed by the work which was submitted. The arts today continue and build on a strong foundation of excellence and I am very pleased to serve as this year’s juror. My criteria for making selections is very simple. Choices are based on a desire to present a comprehensive cross section of work which demonstrates the full range of media and styles submitted, without compromising aesthetic excellence. I firmly believe, however, that juried shows should be as inclusive as possible, serving as support and encouragement for artists. The exhibition should be a celebration of the arts, certainly not a wake. I sincerely hope that my choices will reflect the extraordinary talent of Maui’s artists, artists who make all our lives richer and more meaningful.”

Juror’s Bio: A student of art, an educator, and formerly the Director of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, George Ellis assumed the leading role at the Academy in January 1982. He retired from the Academy 21 years later on February 1, 2003. Ellis received his MFA from the University of Chicago in 1962 and a Ph.D. at the University of California Los Angeles.

While at UCLA one of the positions held by Ellis was Curator of African, Oceanic, and Indonesian Art. As a curator, Ellis authored numerous catalogues, book and exhibition reviews and articles dealing with non-western cultures. He also curated numerous exhibitions on non-western and folk arts involving cultures in Africa, Oceania, the Americas, Asia and Southeast Asia. He conducted field research in Northern Luzon, Philippines on the art of the Ifugao with archival research in Manila. Ellis served as the consulting editor to “African Arts” magazine and as a board member for the Los Angeles Ethnic Arts Council and the UCLA Associates for Ethnic Art. He was also awarded the Ralph C. Altman Memorial Award and outstanding Service Award and became a Kress Foundation Fellow.

Ellis has overseen an unprecedented era of renovation, expansion and rejuvenation of Academy facilities and programs. In areas of conservation and storage, Ellis supervised the upgrading of existing collections storage areas and created new state-of-the-art facilities for storage and preservation of the Academy’s expanding collections.

Under Ellis’s tenure at the Academy he attracted and found funding for major international blockbuster exhibitions such as the recent “Mystery of the Nile: Treasures from Ancient Egypt” and “Tomb Treasures from China” which attracted tens of thousands to the Academy. “Encounters With Paradise: Views of Hawaii and Its People (1778-1941)” was so popular and well received, it spurned an ongoing series of temporary exhibitions leading up to the opening of the new John Dominis and Patches Damon Hold Gallery for the Arts of Hawaii in the Luce Pavilion Complex. This new permanent display is the only one of its kind showcasing the history of art in Hawaii.

In 1996 Ellis was named Hawaii Salesman of the Year in recognition of his support for, and promotion of, Hawaii’s cultural attractions. He is the 2002 recipient of the Alfred Preis Award from the Hawaii Alliance for Arts Education recognizing his lifetime commitment to arts and arts education for Hawaii’s children and their families. Upon Ellis’s retirement the Honolulu Academy Board of Trustees unanimously voted to name a new gallery after him to honor his 21 years of service to the Academy. “The George and Nancy Ellis Gallery: Art of the Philippines” opened in September 2003.

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