What:  Art Maui

Where:  Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center

When: Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well as before Castle Theater shows and during intermission, through April 8

Admission:  Free

More information:  242-7469

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caleb O'Connor's "Untitled" was recommended for purchase by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and was selected as Art Maui 2007's publicity image.

 

 

Art Maui 2006

A big leap forward

Island's most prestigious exhibit has more to show than pretty pictures

Art review and photos by Paul Janes-Brown

"Amber Elliptic"

by JB Rea

 

"The Sunflower"

by Ben Kikuyama

"Light Floats"

by Santiago Pappolla

and courageous declarations.

Besides O’Connor, others honored with a State Foundation on Culture and the Arts purchase award were Abigail Romanchak for her collagraph print “Twin”; Ben Kikuyama’s marvelous portrait of a man with a not too

healthy sunflower growing out of the top of his head, “The Sunflower”; John Shoemaker’s “Maui Suite II: Spiritual Seekers,” an oil, ink, paper and encaustic work consisting of 49 small line drawings; and Akira Iha’s “Nijiriguchi No. 405.”

Iha’s simple, elegant, statement in shades of turquoise reminds one of the aging process. As something ages, the covering erodes and scrapes away revealing the material beneath. Iha’s exploration of this phenomenon presents both the simultaneous beauty and decay of life in a timeless image.

Another museum-quality work is Davo’s paean to Albert Einstein. Davo has taken on the mantle of the late Andy Warhol. Utilizing familiar images of famous people, he incorporates them into a new work of art.

This work shows several portraits of Einstein including one of him playing his beloved violin and takes its title from one of his most intriguing quotes, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” This is one that the schools and those who would mess with the schools, should take to heart.

While there are several works that may cause consternation, there are just as many that are purely beautiful. Newcomer Suzanne Rothlisberger’s “Heart Transplant” has nothing to do with surgery. It’s about her feeling at home

on Maui and how her heart is here as well as her physical self. Note how the lushness of the work, including the heart, is concentrated on the right side and the emptiness, almost desert-like quality of the left side of the work. This could represent her movement from Arizona to Maui.

Alejandro Goya’s diptych, “Pau Pono (Luna Series No.16 & 17),” was inspired by an afternoon at Alii Chang’s lavender farm. According to Goya, the lavender in the center of the painting and the green in the left panel came from the farm and the orange came from a light at his house. Goya displays a chromatic interaction of colors reminiscent of Joseph Albers and Dick

A high school teacher of mine used to say, “Excellence is determined by the degree of selectivity.” If one accepts that premise, then Art Maui 2006 is the most excellent of all the Art Maui’s it’s been my privilege to review. Of the 720 works submitted by 458 artists only 80 pieces were chosen from 76 artists for display in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Schaefer International Gallery. That means each artist had about a 1 in 6 shot of getting accepted.

The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts must have thought so as well, since the $40,000 they recommended spending on five works is the highest total they’ve ever chosen from Art Maui.

The past six Art Maui’s have averaged about 135 pieces. This amount of work challenged those hanging the show to make the exhibit look like more than a Front Street gallery. Bill Scobie-Mitchell ably assisted by Eric Bass, Susan Bradford, Alejandro Goya and Ditmar Hoerl have created an exhibit that looks more like a traveling museum show than a juried show of local artists. This exhibition would be at home anywhere in the country. It’s that good.

Jurors Carol Khewhok, curator of the Honolulu Academy of Arts; Marilyn Nicholson, executive director of the Big Island’s Volcano Arts Center; and Charles Cohan, associate professor of art and printmaking program chairman at University of Hawaii at Manoa, have done an outstanding job producing a show that is cohesive, challenging and certain to stir up a little controversy.

Past Art Maui’s have been very nice shows dominated by pretty pictures of Maui’s natural beauty. Done by excellent, sometimes great artists, there was still precious little art for the head, Mostly it was for the eyes.

Art Maui 2006 has both strong social and political statements coupled with magnificent visual feasts. It is, in the words of Voltaire’s Dr. Pangloss, “The best of all possible worlds.” Once again, there are no bronzes or carved marble sculptures. Only 17 of the 80 works are three-dimensional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Home"

 by Mary Lucas Faustine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The West Window at Les Pres,

Monthodon, France"

        by Tom Sewell

 

 

 

 

"Native Lands Part III

-- Aloha Ainokea"

by Neida B. Bangerter

 

 

THE ARTISTS of ART MAUI 2006:  Byron W. Baker · Neida B. Bangerter · Bernard and Lorin Banks · Rosemary Barile · George R. Brinner · Jackie Buchanan · Jeffrey R. Bunting · Dennis Chamberlain · Michael Clements · Stephanie Clifton · Claudia Coonen · D. Cornell · Carla Crow · Davo · Patrick Dunne · Mary Lucas Faustine · Kristin Fein · Morgan Fisher · Douglas Floyd · Mats Fogelvik · Bonnie Fox · Beth Fox and Kathy Bento · Carmen Gardner · Juan Giliberto · Lynne Gilroy · Alejandro Goya · Lollie (Lali) Grath · David Hamma · Lauren Harris · Kent Hattersley · Barton Hrast · Brad Huck · Akira Iha · Lisa Jacyszyn · Ruth Jatib · Francis Kane · Gregg Kaplan · Claudia Keane · Ben Kikuyama · Kirk Kurokawa · Suzanne Langman · Stephen Levine · Robert Lippoth · Saint Marko · Caroline McGlynn-Killhour · Kimble Mead · Jim Meekhof · Guillem Molinas · Paul Mullowney · Michael Neal · Caleb O'Connor · Rob O'Connor · Diana Olson · Kevin Omuro · Santiago Pappolla · Andrea Patrie · Betty-Jane Perfley · Julie Peterson · J. B. Rea · Nathaniel Richards · William Rodgers · John Romaine · Abigail Romanchak · Suzanne Rothlisberger · Tom Sewell · Elaine Shapiro · John Shoemaker · Nancy Skrimstad · Jefferson Stillwell · Christy Vail · Elaine Wender · Matthew Westcott · Michael Worcester · William S. Worcester · Sidney T. K. Yee

Nelson’s tri-hue system.

A quadtych by Lisa Jacyszyn depicts the four elements fire, air, earth and water. Jacyszyn is a highly accomplished artist, who like AlejandroGoya last year, is new and intriguing to me. It will be interesting to see other work.

Two portraits in different media are also standouts. One is a photograph, the other a watercolor. Both artists, Barton Hrast and Carmen Gardner, chose as subjects people who have been around a long time. Hrast’s “Cowboy” has a weathered face, a twinkle in his eyes and a satisfied smirk on his lips. Gardner’s “Aloha from Ching Store” has captured the graciousness and welcoming manner everyone experiences from the store’s proprietress. The work literally shines and immediately grabs the viewer’s attention.

J.B. Rea’s “Amber Elliptic” looks like the Jolly Green Giant’s pinky ring, but it is really a magnificent, superbly engineered bracelet. Francis Kane’s “Anam Cara” is a fine piece of hammered silver in tribute to his siblings and parents.

Want to visit the south of France? Just check out Tom Sewell’s installation “The West Window at Les Pres, Monthodon, France.” Sewell has taken a video of the view out the window of his home in France and played it back on a monitor encased in a small-paned window. The viewer is invited to sit and gaze out the window at the idyllic landscape, see Sewell’s neighbors going for a walk. A car goes by and toward the end the artist himself ambles across the field past the window and one expects to see him come into the room at any moment.

Be sure to read the three plaques on the wall. The first is a statement from the artist. One is from an architectural book by Christopher Alexander about a theory of the effect of small-paned windows as opposed to plate glass windows. The final one is a poem, “The West Window” by M. S. Merwin. It takes about 35 minutes to experience the whole thing, but it is truly worth the time and when have you actually had permission to sit and look out a window for 35 minutes?

There are some pretty quirky works in this show including “Potato Face 2” by Nathaniel Richards, Jefferson Stillwell’s “The Flatheads” and Kimble Mead’s “Hair2.” Gregg Kaplan’s pink, white and black latex painting “Ol’ Foggy

Another five are on the cusp of being three-dimensional, but since they are hanging onthe wall, they can’t really be considered sculpture because the viewer cannot circumnavigate them.

Caleb O’Connor and Kirk Kurokowa are two of Hawaii’s brightest lights. Kurokowa, the winner of the Schaefer Portrait Challenge, has a wonderful untitled black and white painting of a group of young people sitting outside watching something very intently.

However, it’s O’Connor who is the star of Art Maui 2006. Ever since he burst on the Maui art scene in 2002 at the Hui No’eau’s 20-30 show with his nude “King David,” O’Connor has been producing one outstanding piece after another. This year he has outdone himself.

O’Connor is one of only five artists in the show with two pieces. His work was one of five recommended for purchase by the State Foundation on the Culture and the Arts. This “Untitled” painting of a man and a woman in midair trying to leap onto a small volcanic outcrop that seems to hover above the clouds, was selected as Art Maui 2007’s publicity image.

The man, dressed in a gray pinstriped blazer and gray trousers with high-top hiking boots, looks like he’s going to make it. The woman, in contrast, looks fearful and desperate and her leap in sandals does not appear nearly as powerful as the man’s. O’Connor has purposely tried to make the viewer feel disoriented by painting a strong gradual diagonal at the base of this almost life-sized painting.

O’Connor’s other painting is called “Edward in Movement.” It’s a painting that shows O’Connor’s exploration into painting motion. The artist sees movement in this work like a series of stop-action photos. His

subject is one of the most humble possible, but one well known to travelers along Hana Highway; he’s the man you see picking up trash. O’Connor is fascinated by these anonymous yet public people, people we all know because we’ve seen them, but who we would never engage.

Art is a family affair at the O’Connor home. Caleb’s wife, Cuban-born Ruth Jatib has, created a complex assemblage of 20 smaller images into a whole titled “Things Received, Things Made” showing various skies painted over Caleb’s and other’s drawings. Jatib and O’Connor’s young son, Ezekial, at 2, is youngest entry in Art Maui. See if you can figure out which of the panels in Jatib’s piece was done by him. It’s not as apparent as you think. When and if you do find it, notice how compatible it is with the rest of the work, especially its palette.

Social and political commentary has always been one of the most important roles of artists in society, a role past Art Mauis have largely eschewed. Art Maui ’06 fully embraces and celebrates that role. It’s another element moving this show into a more important realm, from gallery to museum.

The most notable of these is Paul Mullowney’s Orwell/Huxley/Kafkaesque “Freedom is Slavery: A 21st Century Conundrum.” The huge (100-by-108-inch) woodcut print shows former Secretary of State Colin Powell as Step’n Fetchit. The printing process allowed Mullowney to manipulate the skin tones to make a powerful statement.

Next, he takes on Powell’s successor, Condoleeza Rice. Rice has nothing to say but an information gap in

Mullowney’s depiction. Finally, President Bush is shown with cross gravestones coming out of his mouth. The captions on W’s panels are “Ignorance is Strength” and “Ignore It.”

While one may or may not agree with Mullowney, one has to admire his courage to present these thought-provoking images.

Neida Bangerter is showing the third in her Native Land Series. “Aloha Ainokea” is a hopeful message that incorporates a popular phrase of Hawaiian youth. Ainokea looks like a Hawaiian word, but try to look it up in a Hawaiian dictionary. It’s actually a phonetic spelling of pidgin for “I don’t care.”

Bangerter shows the result of that attitude. Homes are swept away on a river of lava. A man sprays a garden hose into the river while he talks on his mobile phone next to his transparent, empty house. Tourists stand in front of a billboard with Queen Liliuokalani and graffiti including the phrase, “Welcome to Maui, now go away!”

Saint Marko makes an unambiguous statement about development with his mixed-media work “Opportunity.” Over a Carleton Kinkade landscape he has written a strong antidevelopment lament in white block letters.

In the realm of personal commentary, Andrea Patrie’s confessional painting “Did You Ever Consider” demonstrates the pain of a break up and the elemental nature of mothering. This work is a visual scream. As one reads the phrases, one can hear the shouts of anguish

 Roggy” is definitely at the head of this category.

Nature is the great creator, but the artist is the one with eye that shows it to us. Stephen

 Levine’s photograph is an excellent example. Julie Peterson’s ceramic “Cosmos” is an example of an artist imitating nature. Through the use of ceramics, Peterson creates naturalistic stones and places them in settings that expand their meaning.

No art show on Maui would be complete without the Worcesters. This one has two, William’s “Black/Rose” is a terrific hand- blown glass platter. His son Michael ’s “Three Judges” shows the family legacy is assured.

Every show has work that makes one ask, “What were the jurors thinking?” This Art Maui has fewer questions than any I have seen since my first in 1998. There are those who will love this show and those who will not, but that is what makes an art show a worthwhile experience.

One of the ways we define our tastes is by having a range of choices. But liking and disliking are not what art is about. Art is about experiencing artists’ visions and receiving their messages. It’s about giving oneself over to that apprehension and growing through appreciation.

Usually at the conclusion of a review, a list of other notable work is given to the reader.

In this case, every work not mentioned in this article is notable as well.

Paul Janes-Brown can be contacted at pjanesbrown@netscape.net