But the story this year is about what isn’t in Art Maui: The board voted to prohibit installations from the show. Board President Jefferson Stillwell said, “The board has come to this decision to ensure that all artists, from all disciplines, have a fair and equal opportunity to be accepted in the juried exhibit.” He has assured installation artists that they will be included in future shows and there is a process being developed to seek their input. Asked why it was not developed for the 2011 show, Stillwell said, “The installation guidelines were not complete enough to incorporate it into the prospectus, so instead of rushing and not putting together a complete submission process, we held off until Art Maui 2012.”
Tom Sewell, the artist most affected by this decision, mounted a clever, humorous and artistic protest. Using newspaper photos of the recent worldwide revolutions and statements published about the installation controversy, Sewell and his menehune changed posters and headlines to make a series of satirical comments about the situation, creating art in his Ha‘ikü studio that could easily have been accepted into the show.
Ironically, Sewell was not deterred by this decision and was selected as one of 126 artists—of the 377 who submitted 592 pieces—whose work was deemed worthy of Art Maui 2011.
George Berezovsky’s Rhapsody, a mixed art piece, is the publicity image for Art Maui 2012.
Photo: Paul Janes-Brown
In fact, he was one of only 13 artists with two works in the show. Both are photos, and both celebrate the phenomenon of reflection. The larger of the two is a photo that looks like a 19th century silhouettes—on steroids. The piece is also a tribute to the late artist George Schattenberg and includes a poem entitled Reflection by W.S. Merwin—a wonderful honor to Schattenberg, Merwin and Sewell.
Merwin is the subject of Katharine Hartwig Dahl’s large mixed media work Sing to Me Now: A Tribute W.S. Merwin. Like most of Hartwig Dahl’s work, it is at once subtle and powerful because of her ability to present compelling ideas in pastels and pencil.
Another Dahl, Sharon (no relation), created the most overtly political statement in this show—a caricature of our U.S. Supreme Court and a commentary about what most legal scholars feel is the worst decision ever handed down by the nation’s most pre-eminent authority. The damning work exploring MAMMON v. democracy (Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, a landmark decision holding that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment) belies the motivation of the five who voted for the decision and the embarrassment of the four in the minority.
Another work that could be considered political is Forrest Treadwell’s Plastic Safety Net, a photo of the fence outside of the Maui landfill where plastic bags attached themselves like bizarre Christmas decorations. This photo is actually a relic, since the plastic bag ban bill went into effect in January.
The Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts made selections from only three artists this year: Jonathan Y. Clark, Michael Worcester and Jim Stewart.
Clark has consistently refined and improved his work every show. Nightmare and Triumph: Momotaro Retold, a stunning triptych that employs photo-realism, abstraction and impressionism in one piece, makes Clark among the youngest to be selected for the state’s priceless collection.
This is an exceptional work, with a bold color palate of golds and reds, and bodes well for the future of this young man, who is about to enter graduate school. Remember that name…
Worcester’s hand-blown glass Red Abalone continues the exploration of natural elements in glass by the first family of glass. It’s a fascinating exploration. Look at Bill and Sally’s Ipu in this show. However, Michael’s other piece in the show is pure art, and I do not understand why the HSFCA did not purchase it.
His Gravity Dreams is three sculpted, glazed, glass vessels, with clear glass tubes pierced into the top of the sides of each. The tubes extend to a point where they intersect and support a frosted blue ball that obscures a clear ball beneath them. It is an absolutely stunning, museum-quality piece.
Ditmar Hoerl consistently pushes the envelope. This year, his 50 clocks entitled Ideal Citizens is no exception. The clocks are close to the same time, but note that the minute hands are not synchronized. It is, as usual, from Hoerl, an intellectually and emotionally challenging piece that makes you smile while you ponder what it’s about.
I’ve reached the limit of this piece and only covered a fraction of the work. If you want to hear what I think about the rest, visit www.letstalkmore.org. In the meantime, see the show for yourselves.