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Art of Trash

One person’s trash is an eco-art lover’s treasure.

May 6, 2014
Paul Janes-Brown - Contributing Writer , Maui Weekly

Art of Trash is the annual juried art show that celebrates Maui's talented visual artists and focuses on the need for recycling.

Although Art of Trash began on Maui in 1996, it is only celebrating its 15th anniversary. Maui County withdrew funding in 2005. Thankfully, Malama Maui Nui (formerly, Community Work Day Program) and Sharing Aloha stepped up to revive this important exhibit in 2009, and are once again the event's sponsors this year.

Exhibit Director Wilma Nakamura and Juror Ira Ono are also back again this year.

Article Photos

First Place, “8273258002,” Cecille McMahon

Deybra Fair and Judy Bruder combined their talents to hang the show.

The charge to the artists was, "all entries must be original work made from recycled and/or reused material (no driftwood or natural materials). Create art that gives new life to items that are no longer functional for their original purpose."

In all, 103 works were submitted. Of the 68 accepted, 11 earned awards, making this one of Maui's most generous shows in terms of recognition. Winners receive gifts from several business, including Monkeypod Kitchen, Mala/Honu restaurants, Pi'iholo Zipline, Baskin & Robbins and Ben & Jerry's. Whole Foods provided pupu for the opening party.

Opening night always features the "Trashion Show," where Maui's talented designers create wearable art from recycled materials. Adults and school groups were featured as models from Baldwin High School, Roots School and Seabury Hall paraded their fashions.

The star of the show, not just the "Trashion Show," but also the entire exhibit, is the comely Yvonne Santos. Her frock was spectacular and her palette hat was the perfect topping for this show. She was joined by Kymberly Marr of Make Up and Talent Hawai'i, who also sported a Santos "trashion."

Santos got an honorable mention for one of her six pieces in the show, "Electric Paintbrush," which, I felt, was not her most outstanding work. However, all of pieces were worthy of recognition. Her "Opala Shoji Screen," "My First Louis Vuitton Purse Box Vanity," "Drifter Goat" and "Parisienne Lamp" are much more than recycled art.

Among others that could be in any show was, of course, the indomitable and remarkable Fair, whose "Song of a Broken Princess" is an emotionally wrenching work that explores a recurring theme in Fair's work--violence against women.

Another work that approaches high art is Don Shamblin's "Afternoon of a Faun." It captures the fluidity of Debussy's great prelude and also has a painterly quality to it.

Juror Ono said, "I am interested in the work that artists do with recyclable materials and discarded objects while they consider the fragile environment and new ways of thinking about sustainability and art. Well-constructed work matters."

Ono thought the best piece in the show was Cecille McMahon's "8273258002." He awarded it first place. For second place, Ono liked Kelly Sullivan's evocative, almost iconographic "In Dream of." His third prize went to John Wilson's "Calvin Cooler" and the fourth prize was awarded to Lenny Banggo for "Spoon and Fork Star."

Lynne Bear's "Please Don't Label Me" was another work that was very well done, had profound meaning and gave one a giggle as well. It reminded me of a work by Tom Sewell that didn't make it into Art Maui several years ago.

Besides John Wilson's "Calvin Cooler," there were several other robot/android-like pieces, most of which were done by Tim Gunter, including, the whimsical "Lightheaded," complex "Swiss Army Personal Android" and the hilarious "Rambongo." Also included in this group are Stacy Panlasuigi's "Drone World of Walle" and Bear's "Time to Detox," a humorous and telling look at the world of alcoholism.

In addition to their "trashions," school groups and students participated in the exhibit. Garnering an honorable mention is St Anthony's Art Club's "Muchu," a large crimson sea monster constructed from the opala collected from beach cleanups.

Another notable student work was Kawelo Wong's "Capt. Jack," a clever and nicely done homage to Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" hero.

An annual feature of the exhibit are instruments made by Rob Sargenti and Wesley Furumoto, which are actually played by Sargenti's "Junkyard Band."

In the too-cute-for-words category is Linda Castro's adorable dog, "Picasso," made from boots. You just want to pick him up and take him home.

Among the many hanging sculptures, Michael Nowak's "Untitled" construction of clear plastic bowls with plastic tubes and disks was most striking.

Finally, Tracy Tarlow's "Many Birds Were Saved" is a winged heart made from plastic that would have ended up in some poor seabird's stomach.

Art of Trash is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Friday, May 16, in Maui Mall opposite the movie theater. It's a fun show and you might find something you just cannot live without.



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