Art Maui 2014, the island's biggest and most prestigious annual juried art show, opened last week and will be on exhibit until Sunday, April 20, at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Schaefer International Gallery.
Walking into the gallery, one will be struck by the sense of being in a museum. Juror Stephan Jost decided from the start that he wanted space around each piece for the viewer to have an uninterrupted experience with every work.
From the 336 artists who registered 549 works, Jost selected only 65 by 59 artists, making this the most selective Art Maui in memory.
Walking into Art Maui 2014 gives the viewer the sense of being in a museum. Bene Cambra’s “Black Karma Functional” performance sculpture, the ultimate man-cave seat, is a high rise Harley Davidson chassis that makes an elegant and powerful statement.
Photo: Paul Janes-Brown
Art Maui 2014 co-chairs Mary Ann Leigh and Ted Loberg, and MACC staff member Ditmar Hoerl are to be commended for the rich, elegant look of the show.
Jost, who came to Hawai'i via the Shelbourne Museum in Vermont and Mills College Art Museum in Oakland, has been the director of the Honolulu Museum of Art since 2011. He said he wasn't well acquainted with Maui artists, but was impressed with the quality of what he saw.
He was looking for work that reinterpreted the typical landscapes, and pieces that were analytical, not picturesque. He certainly achieved this. For example, there are only three pieces that could be considered landscapes. Kathleen O'Bryan and Michael Clement's pastels are of the Pu'unene Sugar Mill. Ed Lane's bold "Pineapple Field" is a lot of things, but "picturesque" would not be one of them.
Tom Sewell is back. His audio and video installation, "Odessa Steps," is brilliant in so many ways, but the most notable element is how he has chosen to display the work. The video screen spans the top of 12-foot walls like a bridge. When viewers looks up at the screen, they see an endless parade of feet walking across the bridge from below, as if one were underwater looking up at gods walking on the surface.
Another unique installation is Bene Cambra's "Black Karma Functional" performance sculpture. His ultimate man-cave seat is a high-rise Harley Davidson chassis that makes an elegant and powerful statement.
Each year, the Art Maui Committee selects a publicity image for the following year. The selected image for Art Maui 2015 is Sidney Yee's acrylic painting, "Lighting the Way Home." This work depicts the Lahaina Hongwonji during bon dance season, with lanterns prominently and colorfully dancing in the foreground. Later that night, the audience will gather on the beach to launch lanterns in remembrance of those who have gone before. It is a poignant work from one of Maui's masters.
In addition, the State Commission on Culture and the Arts selected works for possible purchase to include in the state's permanent collection. This year the artists and works are:
"Eddie Would Go" by Mary Ann Leigh, which features a dozen ceramic plates depicting choppy, stormy waves--a fitting and elegant tribute to the bravery of Eddie Aikau, one of Hawai'i's most iconic heroes.
"Hello" by Robert Suzuki, a colored pencil and paint piece on brown paper of a nene in the wild. Suzuki has sculpted the images with exceptional skill, giving the work a three-dimensional feel.
"Recurring Dream Scape," an oil-on-canvas painting by Gary Mukai, looks like ancient, prehistoric cave symbols.
Shaun Fleming's "Puka Pinao"--a true masterpiece. Her table features spectacular, intricate marquetry and the mother of pearl dragonfly is a perfect focal piece. The elegance of this work cannot be overstated. The tabletop seems to float above the stylishly slender legs, which seem more like stems of plants than solid-wood legs.
Another breathtaking piece is a mixed media work by Milan Param. His "Mystical Metamorphic Map" is like a cross between an acid-induced hallucination and a vivid dream. Hundreds of eyes peer out at the viewer. Animals inhabit areas throughout the work. What is the metaphor? And what place is this? It is fantastically intricate, and when you get very close to it, the work takes on a life of its own.
Jost's selections for Art Maui 2014 encompass a wide range of subject matter and styles, but the uniting factors are that every piece in this show is excell-ent and worthy of attention.
Here is a quick overview of some of those that I feel are most notable:
The O'Bryan and Clements' sugar mill pastels previously mentioned, a haunting pastel of Olinda in the rain by Chelsea Bryce, Kathy Sakai's wonderful "In Decline" watercolor, Jeanne B. Denton Nelson's "Star Gazing" oil, Lori Koprowski's "Magma" (a Matisse-esque painting that anthropomorphizes the 'aina) and Pat Masumoto's abstract impressionist "Red Dirt Mountain" (a haunting painting that makes one feel like a flying bird and terrestrial simultaneously).
Art Maui 2014 is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and evenings before Castle Theater shows. This is an outstanding exhibit! Go and enjoy!