Art Maui benefits artists with Hawaii state recognition

Roots by Crystal Jean Baranyk

"Roots" by Crystal Jean Baranyk

Crystal Jean Baranyk has entered numerous art shows over the years, but had not participated in Art Maui until 2010.  To her surprise, one of the two pieces she submitted was accepted – a scratchboard, titled “Roots”, that was created by cutting into a composite white board layered over with black paint and finished with various inks and varnish.

She called her composition an eclectic, stream-of-consciousness featuring Hawaii’s endemic wildlife such as mice and geckos but surprisingly included other things associated with Hawaii, like a wedding ring.  She worked on it freestyle for over a year, and as she went along, felt it came together more like a puzzle forcing her to figure out how one cut of the blade fit into the next.  She’d never before worked on a scratchboard without a prepared plan.

The finished piece was undeniably worthy of Art Maui’s exhibit, so much so, that when the committee for the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (HSFCA) arrived to make its selections, it too felt “Roots” was worthy of display.   Only for this committee, it meant that her piece could eventually be placed in the Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM) where more people could enjoy it through the Art in Public Places program.

“I didn’t know anything about them,” Crystal Jean said of the HSFCA.  “Someone told me about the process after I entered but not beforehand.  It was great.  I could have sold the piece to other people but decided not to.  I was really happy.”

Desert Catenary by John Shoemaker

"Desert Catenary" by John Shoemaker

Like Crystal Jean, some participants – including patrons – still aren’t fully aware of the foundation and its connection to Art Maui, in spite of their collaborating for the last 33 years.  But for others who know of the lengthy relationship, they feel the HSFCA is something that gives Art Maui yet another level of prestige and offers its artists a unique opportunity toward State recognition.

A case in point is John Shoemaker, whose encaustic oil piece titled “Desert Catenary” was also purchased by the HSFCA. He felt that being selected validated his work on a professional level and put his piece on par with artists he had long respected.  It was an honor he truly appreciated and even though the HSFCA has two pieces of his from prior years, he feels hopeful every time he enters Art Maui that the HSFCA will look his way again.

Other Art Maui works chosen by the HSFCA in 2010 were: “The Black Dog” by Judy Bisgard, a woodblock print in oil, and “Pundy’s Vision” by Sidney Yee, an acrylic painting.  They were purchased from the foundation’s $2.9M operating fund in support of its Art in Public Places (APP) program, the bulk of which was used to buy commissioned artwork statewide.  Currently all four Art Maui 2010 selections are being held for the next “New Acquisitions” Exhibition slated to open Sept. 2, 2011 at HiSAM located on the 2nd floor of the No. 1 Capitol Building at 250 S. Hotel Street in Honolulu.

Black Dog by Judy Bisgard

"Black Dog" by Judy Bisgard

Pundy's Vision by Sidney Yee

"Pundy's Vision" by Sidney Yee

As with most of the work the HSFCA purchases – about 65% of the art – they are categorized and exhibited at HiSAM, while others are hand picked for specific public locations.  Consequently, one sculpture might end up in the hallway of the Kahului Airport executive offices.  Another painting might appear on the wall at the Department of Transportation on Kauai.  And yet another tapestry might even hang in a public library on Molokai.  Occasionally the art is rotated.

Through the APP program, the foundation provides a fundamental, cultural connection between the general public, the artists, policy-makers, businesses, and the State, thereby achieving its main priority of leadership and advocacy of the arts.  It furthers this mission by advancing the education of every Hawaiian student through art and maintaining its goal of preserving the “expressive character of the Hawaiian Islands”.

So, no matter where an artist’s work is displayed around the State, the importance of the APP program is immeasurable, if for no other reason than it benefits every one of us, including those who have limited access in rural communities or who live on Neighbor Islands.

For Art Maui, the entire HSFCA experience is one of true excitement.  When the foundation’s Acquisition Award Selection Committee arrives, its members and commissioners spend about two hours – quietly and completely alone – with all the juried works as a select few members of Art Maui wait outside.  During this allotted time, the AASC nominates pieces for purchase, but if later a recommendation is not approved by the HSFCA, it will be returned to the artist.

Once the AASC completes its nominations and makes its announcement to the representatives of Art Maui, they next take their recommendations to the HSFCA.  Meanwhile, Art Maui’s committee has the pleasure of notifying the parties involved and attaching placards to the specially nominated pieces so that the general public knows a particular artist has been honored.

“There’s no way of knowing how many pieces the HSFCA will select and purchase but it’s a good feeling to have so many of our Maui artists represented in our state’s collection,” says Chris Scharein, Art Maui Chair.  “It is the best benefit I can think of for our artists.  For us to have the HSFCA visit Art Maui year after year indicates that Maui has a community of artists that are creative and deserving of this recognition.”

Ronald Yamakawa, Executive Director of the HSFCA, feels likewise about Art Maui, having been involved since its formation.  His belief is that Art Maui is the single best role model for other islands to emulate.  And, from his perspective, it supports the foundation’s priorities by giving added recognition to Maui’s leading artists and providing the State access to artwork for display and purchase through its Art in Public Places program.

~ By Elaine Gallant, 2011

For more information on the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, go to:

Mission Statement – to promote, perpetuate, preserve and encourage culture and the arts, history and the humanities as central to the quality of life of the people of Hawai’i.

Funding for the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts is provided by the State of Hawai’i and the National Endowment for the Arts.  The HSFCA is administratively attached to the Department of Accounting and General Services.

250 South Hotel Street, 2nd Floor, Honolulu, Hawai’i
Main telephone number: 808-586-0300
Fax:  808-586-0308
TTY: 808-586-0740