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Whimsical, thoughtful and humorous Art of Trash returns to Maui Mall.

April 26, 2012
Paul Janes-Brown , The Maui Weekly

The Art of Trash opened its 12th edition at Maui Mall last Friday, April 20. The show, which started on Maui in 1996, took a few years off, when Maui County stopped sponsoring it in 2004. Community Work Day and Sharing Aloha brought it back in 2009 and have been the sponsors ever since.

The show celebrates the Maui artistic community's ability to transform material that would otherwise end up in the landfill into works of art. This show is consistently one of the most interesting on Maui in every exhibit, there is at least one "Wow." Besides "wows," the works are sure to stimulate one's funny bone as well as one's thinking bone.

This year's exhibit features 68 works by 47 artists, and actually, there's more than one "wow" in this show.

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Bob Flint’s “Sublime Pie” was the juror’s choice award-winner. A definite “wow,” this papier mache sculpture is pop art at its best.

I agree with Juror and Art of Trash Founder Ira Ono, who selected Bob Flint's "Sublime Pie" as the juror's choice award-winner. A definite "wow," this giant slice of lime pie with a huge pink fork in it of papier mach is pop art at its best. The piece reminds me of Claes Oldenburg, the '60s artist who created monumental sculpture out of mundane objects, such as lipsticks, a clothes pin and a typewriter eraser, to name a few.

Another artist who may have taken a cue from Oldenburg is Elizabeth Keller with her "Big Butts." Her oversized cigarette butts in an ashtray serve to remind what a dirty and unhealthy practice tobacco smoking is.

Bill Stroud's "Ancestor's Pulse" is also a "wow." Created from wood lying around his yard, Stroud has transformed it into a huge drum. Be sure to give it a thump. It has a remarkable sound.

Ono awarded first place to Zane Mathias' "Hana Hou." This clever piece of furniture utilizing used tennis balls and an old door is accompanied by an equally clever explanation on a camera tripod. The artist informs the viewer that although the balls led a violent existence, through useful transformation, that which we once served, now serve us.

Second place was awarded to Heig Beck's "Our Lady of the Rake." Beck has a penchant for creating magical, enchanted sculpture from rusty, discarded garden items. Here she uses artificial flowers to bring color and life to the work.

Tim Gunter, who has six pieces in the show, garnered third place with his "Oops, My Plants are Falling Down and My Growing Hurts."

Last year, D. Bauer entered a marvelous sculpture made of disposable cigarette lighters. This year, she has another one. But "Light My Fire" uses the lighters as the frame for her double entendre piece that has the opening notes of The Doors' revolutionary single that transformed music from three-minute ditties to the album rock we so loved in the '60s and '70s. I love the way she employs the black and white lighters as if they were keys on a piano.

Did you know that last fall bull fighting was banned in Catalonia, Spain? In fact, now one has to travel to the South of France, Aragon or Valencia to watch the centuries-old blood sport. It was Kelly Sullivan's work, "Bula," in this show that made me aware of this astounding cultural change. The piece that received honorable mention is both a celebration of the end of an era and tribute to Pablo Picasso.

Another powerful piece by Sullivan is her "Do Not Resuscitate," which captures the drama and the relationship between technology and medical practices.

Diana Drake's "Awareness" encourages breast cancer prevention through early detection.

Young Charleene Nobriga, a student at St. Anthony School and the niece of Kathy Nobriga Kim of Maui Soda and Ice, has produced "Polar Bear in a Coca Cola World," a whimsical and eminently commercially viable work that utilizes soda cans.

One of Maui's best-known artists, William Worcester, also has a piece in this show. His "Bird Bath Tub with Simulated Water" is a real departure for one of the state's most accomplished glass artists.

Deybra Fair, one of my personal favorite artists on the island, has produced a expressionistic bird entitled "Empty Nest Syndrome."

Finally, it wouldn't be an Art of Trash without Tess Cartwright, the queen of recycled art. Cartwright has been releasing creatures from plastic bottles and jugs for many years now, and this past year, she had a true piece of fine art in Art Maui.

The Art of Trash continues until Sunday, May 13. The free exhibit in the storefront next to Taco Del Mar is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.



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