Pry open the glass doors of the 4,000-square-foot Schaefer International Gallery and the mood engulfs you. Contemplative footsteps on wooden floors echo amidst whispered musings and the happy labor of rods and cones. An acrid tinge of whitewash still lingers from the gallery walls’ fresh coat, now home (until April 2) to a curated collection of over 100 new works—in almost every medium—created exclusively by Maui County artists.
Wandering through any art showcase is a brain buffet, and Art Maui is no exception—the annual juried exhibition is an institution. Since 1979, this prestigious showcase has been “made possible through the purchases of artworks by patrons and the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, artists’ entry fees, the generous support of donors and sponsors and the efforts of hundreds of volunteers.”
Featuring 139 works by 126 artists (selected from nearly 600 submissions), the 2011 Art Maui exhibition reflects our motley Maui aesthetic, rendered by the hands of some of our isle’s most talented fine artists. Entry is open to all Maui County residents over the age of 18, and all works “must be original and have been created within the last two years independently and without supervision.” There’s no prize but the privilege of selection, though pieces are often snatched up by collectors, including the illustrious Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (HSFCA).
In Art Maui’s 33 years, it has fostered a longstanding collaboration with HSFCA’s Art in Public Places program and its mission “to promote, perpetuate, preserve and encourage culture and the arts, history and the humanities as central to the quality of life of the people of Hawaii.”
Last year, a whimsically scientific scratchboard composition titled “Roots” by Crystal Jean Baranyk, caught the eye of the HSFCA’s panel, with its hyper-detailed stylization of Hawaiian flora and fauna carefully knife-etched through India ink into a thin layer of hue-saturated clay. “Roots” was purchased by HSFCA and will be on display at the Hawaii State Art Museum’s “New Acquisitions” showcase later this year, along with three other pieces purchased from the 2010 Art Maui show.
This year, Jonathan Y. Clark’s “Nighmare and Triumph: Momotaro Retold” is among those being added to HSFCA’s permanent collection. If you’ve seen Clark’s other work (like his showpiece in The Essence of Maui exhibit last year, also at the Schaefer Gallery), “Nightmare and Triumph” not only displays his skill for capturing the tricky malleability of fabric on the human form but again exemplifies this 23-year-old’s penchant for triptych expression of folklore, with Japanese and Hawaiian motifs indelibly intertwined.
In “By The Slice” by Kirk Kurokawa, delicate afternoon light on a keiki’s ehu locks is painted with a mastery that even a photographic lens might miss. Conceptual Sumi-e brush strokes strike an impossible balance between stark and soft in M. Takemoto’s “Wabi Sabi V,” which—to a leuk survivor like me—conjures a moving semiosis of white blood cells in motion.
Be it in silver work, blooming glass sculpture, turned wood, ticking clocks, quilted fiber, fired clay, molded metal—or anything else offered at Art Maui—step past the gallery threshold and I guarantee you’ll find something that moves you.