There’s an island-wide art party going on in February and you’re all cordially invited. None of us may ever really know what holds an artist to his or her work, but that shouldn’t stop us from taking advantage of a chance to see them in action. Maui Open Studios is a once a year chance to get up close and personal with the island’s artists, and it begins Saturday with an opening event at the Maui Tropical Plantation.
The event is free and offers islanders the unique experience of interacting with their favorite artists. Producer Carolyn Quan, who lives in the Bay Area now but used to own her own gallery on Maui, says the concept follows a model developed on the Mainland.
“MOS is being fine-tuned year after year and has from the beginning been inspired and influenced by many open studio events on the Mainland,” says Quan. “I’ve studied a number of them to see what would and wouldn’t work on the islands, since it is a different market and has different needs. I’ve participated in the East Bay Open Studios and San Francisco Open Studios as an artist in the Bay Area so I learned first-hand about the events from the viewpoint of the artist. There are many different models that are used throughout the mainland. I’d like to think that the Maui event has a uniqueness of its own.”
Though she lives in California now, where she publishes several Bay Area art guides, Quan (CarolynQuan.com) says her ties to Maui are still very strong.
“I love Maui,” says Quan. “It was very good to me during my seven years living there and I like to give back. I also have so many friends and ohana there that I just wanted to bring something fun and exciting and helpful to artists, to the island. I love helping other artists get exposure. It’s something I’m driven to do. I am hoping to bring it to Oahu in the years to come. I lived there for two years before moving to the Bay Area and I’m well-connected with the art scene there, too.”
The Opening Celebration and Preview Exhibition at the Maui Tropical Plantation will have entertainment by the Arts for Education Children’s Group and no-host food to order. The main attraction will be a chance to preview some of the artists who will participate in the Open Studios events over the coming weekends.
You’ll also be able to pick up a guide book that highlights the different artists and says where their open studio event will take place. This is pretty much mandatory, since more than 100 artists will take part in 6,000 studio visits throughout the month.
“I have to say that from the viewpoint of an art collector, the level of skill of artists on Maui is very high,” says Quan. “The percentage of highly skilled and exceptional artist in the 2013 MOS event is very, very high. I love that. My hope is that it will bring more art collectors out to the event, so they can have a unique up-close and personal experience with the artists and create more value to the art that they add to their collections by having that experience. There will be an amazing array of artwork: glass (slumped, formed, etc.), wood (turned, carved, etc.), plein air painting, jewelry design, digital art, ceramics, interactive and video art, photography, functional art, abstract painting, paper sculpture, large vessels, animal carvings, hand-crafted furniture–the list goes on. The artist online directory is pretty much done as far as artist profiles go, so please feel free to browse there too: MauiOpenStudios.com.”
The Hui Noeau is a major sponsor for the event, and will host artists and demonstrations in their printmaking, jewelry and ceramic studios during the Weekend 1 Tour that takes place Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 9-10, from 11am to 6pm. UH Maui College will join in for the first year with their art department hosting a student open studio during Weekend 2 on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16-17.
The event should generate more than $100,000 in sales during the studio visits, from small pieces to large collector purchases, says Quan. Some of the more unique mediums and styles can be found among the participating artists like Shane Robinson, Taryn Alessandro, Donna Chameleon Stafford, Jim’s Wood N Glass, Jennifer Throne, Mark Berry, James Powlan, Karen Davidson. Of course, Quan says that collectors are all different, and that visitors can also drive the art market here.
“Tourism also plays a big part in the subject matter of art creates on Maui, in general,” she says. “ A lot of collectors who frequently visit the island often want a piece of art that reminds them of their Maui or Hawaiian experience. In the big cities, you tend to see a lot more contemporary and abstract art, less representational. However with that said, we’re starting to see more modern art emerge on the islands and the breaking of that stereotype. This is what is needed to create a broader and more diverse art scene on the islands. Whether or not there is as much of a demand for it in the tourism market is a whole other question. In this creative world we live in, I’m sure there is plenty of room for all types of artistic expression and a market for it all.”
Artist experience also plays a role in the success of the open studio.
“Based on our post-event artist surveys from the past two years, I would say that about 90 percent of all artists sell something,” says Quan. “Now, this ‘something’ may be a $10 item or $15,000 worth of art. However, with total sales each year of over $100,000 (about 70 percent of the artists who returned their surveys), there are a lot of artists who are obviously selling well during the event. There is such a range of artists in terms of experience, professionalism, self-promotion, skill-level, desired mediums, etc. that every artist will have a different experience with the event. For some artists, MOS is their very first showing to the public and for others it’s one of many, many shows that they do.”
For more information on Maui Open Studios, please visit Mauiopenstudios.com.
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Opening Celebration/Preview Exhibition
Sat., Feb. 2, 6-9pm
Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu
Open Studio self-guided tours
North Shore and Upcountry
Sat. and Sun., Feb. 9-10
Central Maui, Road to Hana, Hana and East Maui
Sat. and Sun., Feb. 16-17
West and South Maui
Sat. and Sun., Feb. 23-24