OF ART MAUI
In 1978, an artist living
on the beautiful, tropical island of Maui had limited opportunities to
show his or her artwork. The Lahaina Arts Society was the biggest arts
group at that time, and would have one-person shows in their newly renovated
Old Jail Gallery (labor provided by George Allan). There were also supportive
local galleries, art shows at the Public Library, and the chance to win
a 1st place ribbon in the big annual art show at the County Fair. Many
artists still felt a sense of isolation in not knowing where their work
stood in comparison with the work of other artists from the big cities.
In the late 1970's a group of professional artists here on Maui decided
to start a juried art show. At that time, tourism and the thrust toward
big hotel development was just becoming a focal area for Maui's business
community. Miriam Fendler, a woman with a vision, plus great connections
in Maui county government, wanted to put together a one-time art show
to encourage Visitor interest in art collecting on Maui. Miriam contacted
Janet Allan, then Manager of the Lahaina Arts Society, and Janet pulled
in the energy of artists Marian Freeman and Richard Nelson.
1979 Art Maui Gallery Installation Planning Committee at
Bob Bush, Marian Freeman, George Allan, Tom Klobe, Richard Nelson
This core group quickly decided that it would need an entire year to pull
all of their ideas together in order to make an annual juried show happen
on Maui. Thus the seeds were planted for the first Art Maui of 1979. The
founders wanted to develop seminars geared specifically towards training
issues, concerning shipping, publicity and other topics that would help
new artists. A film festival of 32 art-related films was planned, which
ran also in the following four years concurrently with the show. There
would be networking opportunities for the artists coming to planning meetings,
and a chance for their work to improve by submitting it for jurying.
The idea met a very positive response from Maui artists. They willingly
sought a juried show to stretch towards a more professional level in their
One of the long-term goals of having a juried art show on Maui was to
expand attitudes about what was considered fine art. The idea was to encourage
"authentic work," art that would be real for the artist, and
yet something to which a viewer could relate.
A number of ideas were discussed to encourage the collecting of art. The
commitment of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to purchase
from the show made a strong statement to promote local artists. The idea
of the Purchase Pledge became essential to the success of Art Maui. A
small group of local collectors would promise each year to purchase art
from the the show. This lead to twelve sales at the first show, including
purchases by the State Foundation.
The implementation of a Publicity Artist Award, started in 1985, began
over ten years of Art Maui posters, and now there are Art Maui cards and
postcards. Art Maui's publicity images have been seen in National art
magazines, as well as on Web pages.
Art Maui intends to be at the forefront of fine art development in our
island future. There are important questions being asked about what artists
will be doing in the future, and how the advent of computers will affect
how we see art, make art, and promote art here on Maui. Art Maui will
be there, surfing that new wave of the internet, and supporting local
artists for the next twenty years and beyond.