In his juror’s statement, Bushnell said that Art Maui is a celebration of Maui’s diverse and vital arts community. He wanted to identify works that go “beyond technical mastery…” to those that “seem to speak with an authentic voice… always a difficult and imperfect enterprise.”
However difficult and imperfect this enterprise may be, Bushnell has assembled a strong two-dimensional show, which has a refreshing bend toward the abstract. Representational lovers shouldn’t be put off—there is plenty here for them to see and enjoy.
The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts selected four pieces for their purchase awards: Roots by Crystal Baranyk, Black Dog by Judy Bisgard, Desert Catenary by John Shoemaker and Pundy’s Vision by Sidney Yee. While three of these artists are well-known to the Art Maui community, this is Baranyk’s first foray into the fray.
Stephanie Farago’s Flirting Surrealists is a whimsical, oil-painted ceramic featuring images of Salvador Dali and Carmen Miranda.
In addition to those four works, which are worth about $14,000 according to Art Maui Chair Chris Scharein, 18 were sold at the annual pledge purchase dinner held the night before the artists’ reception, and eight more have sold since the show opened. The total for this year so far is approximately $ 67,000.
Each year, Art Maui selects the publicity image for next year’s show. This year they have selected Joelle C. Perz’s marvelous oil and acrylic on carved wood, Native Imprint.
What Babe Ruth was to baseball, Tom Sewell is to art— both regularly and reliably hit home runs. Sewell has created two inspired and exceptional installations. Bach, Monks and Shakespeare Meet in Water is a mixed media installation with video. Somehow, Sewell and his resident geniuses have figured out a way to project a video image of a face—in this case it’s the face of the actor Stacey Keach—onto a mannequin, so that it looks like Keach is here in a monk’s habit reciting Hamlet and Lear’s soliloquies. The music accompanying the work was composed by Tan Dun and performed by the Kronos Quartet.
Sewell’s other piece is another technological marvel. He and his menehune have taken those digital photo frames and jiggered them so that they play video. This video is a tribute to Sewell’s late mentor, Dr. William “Rubak” Vitarelli, a man who lived his life to the fullest and sought to contribute to the betterment of human kind over all of his 99 years. Take the time to sit before each of the four screens and listen to all four 10-minute segments. This may be the best 40 minutes you will ever spend.
If Sewell is the Babe Ruth of artists, then Ditmar Hoerl is Yogi Berra. Hoerl is an artist who always delights in a way one never expects. Only Hoerl could see Sunrise in Flatland by hanging three 16-foot pieces of thread an inch and a half from the wall. Stand directly in front of the piece and see the parallel shadows disappear.
In this most tumultuous time, one might expect artists to comment on the war, the economy, joblessness or some other social or economic concern. Perhaps these comments, if there were any, were among the rejected works. Only one artist, photographer Erin McNally, chose a controversial subject. In her photo Torture - Doesn’t Work, McNally presents an ambiguous image of a torture bed and the victims of the killing fields in Pol Pot’s Cambodia in the ’70s. If she was trying to comment about the torture controversy in the Iraq War, this image is a strange one to do it with.
More than 10 percent of Art Maui 2010 is photography. Among the best of these are three newcomers. Jordan Lynn Pigott has been on Maui for all of eight months, but her haunting image Sleepwalking, taken with an old-fashioned 4-by-5 camera, will stay with the viewer for a long time. It is a perfect photo.
Lee Guthrie has been taking pictures most of her life, but has never shown at Art Maui. Her two black and white photos of Mennonite life are like a trip in a time machine.
Jack Grace is another “newbie” to Art Maui. His stunning digital painting of a newly blossomed bird of paradise promises this won’t be his last show.
Another first-timer, Ken Kennell, is a true master of pointillism, one of the most difficult techniques in painting. Kennell presents the first of 33 triptychs that he said will illustrate an entire hula dance, Kua Loloa Kea‘au I Ka Nahelehele, as adapted by Kumu Hula Kapono Kamauno performed by Mahiehie Pokipala.
There is much more to talk about and see in this show, but space limitations will not allow for more discussion. Go and see for yourself.
Art Maui 2010 is free and open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, as well as before and during intermission at Castle Theater shows.