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Art of Trash

Maui artists celebrate creative recycling.

May 5, 2011
Maui Weekly

The exhibit began on Maui in 1996 and continued until 2003, then took a five-year break until 2009, when the Community Work Day Program and Sharing Aloha revived the show and became its prime sponsors. This year, Community Work Day is the sole sponsor.

The show includes 80 pieces, including classwork from Pomaika‘i Elementary School. However, unlike past years, when all of the arts immersion school’s works were in the exhibit, only three works from the school are being shown. The remainder is displayed in a window of a vacant store near the outdoor mall’s stage.

Hawai‘i Island artist and gallery owner Ira Ono is the juror for the show and Wilma Nakamura is the show’s coordinator.

Article Photos

Rainbow GarBridge by D. Bauer is an example of the creativity on display in the tenth edition of the Art of Trash at Maui Mall in Kahului.

Ono’s Juror’s Choice Award went to Worm’s The Torque Monster. The work is the skeleton of a 163-pound ahi the artist landed by default, after the person who originally hooked the monster was physically unable to continue his battle for it. The artist combined the skeleton with his signature motorcycle parts to create both a sculpture and a tribute to the monster. Be sure to read the fish story—how it was landed and ultimately became the work on the wall.

Last year’s Juror’s Choice Award recipient, Deybra Fair, took second place this year. Her installation, “Shelter from the Storm,” is a highly personal work that shares a universal human message. Be sure to look inside for the explicit message. However, the work itself, with it’s complex array of symbolic images, conveys the meaning clearly without words.

S. Joy Webster, who has been active in recycling on Maui for more than a decade, took third place with her Found. With both aesthetic and intellectual appeal, it presents a clever poem contained in a beautiful way.

One of the largest works in the show is by Robin Webster. The huge Motorcycle T-shirt Quilt will be easily recognizable to Upcountry denizens of Casanova Italian Restaurant & Deli.

An honorable mention was given to Heig Beck’s Garden (trash) Tower. You can almost see a place from the past—an English garden filled with roses cared for lovingly by a whimsical Wellington-wearing woman who had a touch of the poet.

Speaking of whimsy, Tina Lia’s iPurse and Sally Daniels’ Tea Bag Bag take that prize. Lia is definitely onto something—she should patent it and then contact Steve Jobs. Daniels, a Häna lady who doesn’t consider herself an artist, was surprised when her piece was selected and she had to travel to this side for the opening.

For pure clever, Michael Nowak’s Gaudy Warning has to take that prize. The sculpture is made entirely from reflectors and it has a Middle Eastern feel that may cause one to look for a place to smoke. His other work, 3-D Eyepop, garnered fourth place from the juror. It’s a work that has to be seen to feel what it does when standing in front of it. Make sure you take a photo in front of it. You will love what comes out.

The courageous award has to go to Claudia Coonen, who recently celebrated her 60th birthday. Despite her cancer treatments, this remarkable artist continues to create. She has woven baskets from Venetian blinds—and they are lovely.

Tess Cartwright, who has exhibited in every Art of Trash show that I have seen since 1998, continues to refine her technique of transforming anything plastic into a cute creature. This time she’s given us a white bird on a stand.

Donald Smith is an accomplished sculptor in metal, and his El Camino Nights reminds us of the beauty and depth that can come from contemplating rusty metal.

A tribute to the great R. Buckminster Fuller by Mark Rooney features a geodesic dome made from chopsticks. It’s a cleverly compelling piece—I particularly like the pedestal.

Since the show opened during Holy Week, Enedina Bonilla’s Casa Mexicana seems particularly appropriate, with its crucifix almost mystically appearing from the array of tiles reminiscent of a checkers game.

For an example of what this show means in terms of transforming trash into art, Elizabeth Keller’s Butt Lei, which received an honorable mention from the juror, is one of the best. I would like to give it as a prize to friends who continue to carry on with the nasty, health-threatening habit.



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