Juror 2012: Tom Klobe

Tom KlobeOne of the original founders of Art Maui, Tom Klobe was also one of three jurors for the 2007 exhibition. He is known for his exhibition curating and design. However, he started out as an artist doing sculpture and painting using light and plexiglas as the primary media, and still does watercolors. His tastes and appreciation of the range of art are extremely broad.

Juror’s statement: “Art communicates on two levels, the visual and the conceptual. It is the interaction of these two aspects that makes a work of art stand apart from others. Both are essential to art’s significance, to its ability to capture the intangible quality that gives an art form its inner vitality and sense of timelessness.”

Juror’s bio: Tom Klobe is professor emeritus and founding director of the University of Hawaii Art Gallery. During his 29 year tenure at UH he organized and designed over 200 exhibitions, five of which received the prestigious Print Casebook Award for Best in Exhibition Design—the equivalent of the Oscar for exhibitions—in competition with major museums in the US and abroad. (Once his exhibitions defeated those of both the MET and the National Gallery.)

Besides being a sensitive designer, Tom possesses acute skills of conceptual thinking, is a researcher, writer, editor, technician, and community leader. He has authored 12 exhibition catalogues and was editor of 25 publications. He is currently completing a book on exhibition planning and design that includes chapters on concept development and interpretation.

Tom conceived, developed, and taught the first course in museum interpretation within a US university. It concentrated on methods of communicating with the museum visitor that included docent training. He has been an integral part of docent training at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, The Contemporary Museum, the Hawaii State Art Museum, and Shangri La.

Tom was named a Living Treasure of Hawaii by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission in 2005 and was the recipient of the Robert W. Clopton Award for Distinguished Community Service in 2003. In 1999 he was knighted by the Republic of France as a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters for his contributions to the arts in France and Hawaii. (He, however, prefers not to be called “Sir Tom.”)

Former director of the Honolulu Academy of Arts described Tom as “probably the best [exhibition] designer in Hawaii, one of the best in the U.S., and he has a rightful place as a great designer in the world.” Klobe attributes his holistic approach to exhibition planning as the key to success. “Understanding the meaning and purpose of the exhibition and communicating with the museum visitor are essential.”

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