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The Fantastic Fifty

The Hui No‘eau members’ show is stunning.

January 14, 2010
Paul Janes-Brown

Every juried show is by definition, the jurors.’ Inger Tulley proved, despite Tom Wolfe’s protestations to the contrary, that you can come home again. Tulley was the hui’s exhibits coordinator and program director for five years before moving on to Hawai‘i’s top job in the art world: a comparable position at Honolulu’s Contemporary Museum.

Joining Tulley to form a dynamic duo of Hawai‘i art professionals was Theresa Papanikolas, the curator of European and American Art at the Honolulu Academy of the Arts. Tulley, who arguably knows the hui art space better than anyone else, was determined to give the selected work space to breathe. The result is 50 fine works that fit the two hui galleries perfectly.

The fantastic 50, the creations of 38 artists, were selected from 288 entries. In this highly competitive show, the jurors wanted viewers to “question, have a chuckle, or take a moment to reflect on the creative process.”

Article Photos

Pat Masumoto’s Not Quite, an acrylic on canvas, is a conflagration of color and energy.

A show with Michael Takemoto in it is always a good one. Takemoto consistently challenges with both his subject matter and technique. He exhibits three sumi ink and wax works that celebrate the beauty in destruction. He has taken three iconic images of ultra-violence—the bombing of the U.S.S. Arizona on Dec. 7, 1945; the atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1954; and the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001—and asks the question about the relationship of violence and destruction to beauty. It’s one to ponder. He achieved honorable mention for all three pieces.

The Jurors’ Choice Award went to Jaisy Hanlon (no relation to artist James—except they are both excellent). Hanlon is a metalsmith, painter and photographer who combines all her talents into unique three-dimensional works. Compositionally as well as technically, these works are striking.

In every show there are the new people who surprise and amaze with their unique perspective and great skill. This show is chock full of “new” artists to the exhibit scene on Maui, which is admittedly tiny—the Hui No‘eau and Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Those who impressed were Melissia Chimera in mixed media (who isn’t at all like her name), Ayumi Ditamore in ceramics, Zach Pezillo and Aldei Kawika Gregoire in photography, Virginia Pierce in painting and Anita Laviola in jewelry.

Chimera’s Protection is an homage to a ground breaking trip she took into the forbidden regions of Tibet at the behest of the Chinese government. She was only one of eight Western artists to be invited; the other nine were from the East. Her work is a compilation of objects important to Tibetans and other material she brought with her. Her work was another of the five given an honorable mention.

How often can one say jewelry is powerful? Anita Laviola’s Linked Sterling Wave Necklace and Bracelet are extremely unique rough hewn, unpolished, large-linked chains of sterling that look like they just came out of the ground. They remind one of the elemental nature of jewelry and our own relationship to nature. If I were to title these, it would be Nascence.

Artists help us see the familiar in new ways. They transform our perception and help us to grow in the process. Virginia Pierce has taken two of Maui’s most well-known places, Baby Beach and the Pu‘unēnē Mill, and made them new and fresh; no mean feat.

Ayumi Ditamore’s Teapot With A Thought is another example of a rough piece that doesn’t shy away from what it is. The cracks in the glaze and the top that doesn’t quite fit belie the skillful pagoda image and technical excellence of the overall design and execution of this work.

Among the chuckles in this show, Ed Lane’s scratchboard I’m not a Vegetarian stands out. It’s an image of a chicken with a brass plate on the frame, which says, “I did not become a vegetarian for my health. I did it for the health of the chickens.”

Two paintings, which are at once humorous and thought-provoking, are Sharon Dahl’s Jabberwock I & II. She has updated the Lewis Carroll verse and made President Barack Obama into the brave boy who slays the Godzilla-like Jabberwocky with his “vorpal blade,” while the nemesis Bandersnatch Dick Cheney and the Jubjub Bird, the now unemployed former Alaska governor, loom.

From across the gallery, one can see on the furthest wall in the outer room a big, beautiful Maui sky with the sun low on the horizon in full Technicolor. Ah, Kari McCarthy was the first thought—but it was a total shock to find out this is Julie Houck’s. Known more for her renaissance-esque miniatures, this is a true departure, and a very successful one.

A host of delights both new and familiar await the visitor to this show. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Sunday through Feb. 18.



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