Friday, December 21, 2012

Hui Welcomes Lauren C. Faulkner as 2013 Hui No’eau Annual Juried Exhibition Juror

Lauren Faulkner
Next Friday, December 28 marks the receiving day for the 2013 Hui No’eau Annual Juried Exhibition - easily the most competitive showing of the Hui’s 8 annual exhibition opportunities, which are free and open to the public year-round. Generously sponsored by Jack & Carolyn Schafer Gray, Robert & Fran Davidson and Doug & Jill Schatz, this prestigious mufti-media arts competition offers an opportunity to view the current work of Hui members as well as participate in topics upon which contemporary minds are engaged.

By presenting new work in the Hui’s public gallery space, artists are offered the opportunity to share insights about their processes and inspire students. They help both beginning and established collectors develop sound collecting strategies that reflect their personal interests, evolving aesthetic sensibilities, and create means of integrating new work into their existing environments. Nationally renowned guest jurors represent respected curators and artists from Maui, Hawai‘i and beyond, offering a different perspective for a unique and fresh show every year.

This year the Hui is proud to welcome Lauren C. Faulkner, Owner / Art Consultant at the Fine Art Associates on Oahu to its distinguished roster of Hui No’eau Annual Juried Exhibition jurors. Raised on Oahu, Faulkner earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from the University of Hawai’i in 1986. She worked briefly with design consultants Linn Sol Interiors before quickly learning that her passion lied in working “directly and entirely with art” and began a career with The Fine Art Associates. 30 years later she is the owner and principal consultant, working with a broad range of clients to place artwork in their homes, businesses, hotels and more- working directly with both emerging and established artists from studio visit to conception of new work to placement. Her education, experience, relationships and keen eye for the unique make her a fresh and exciting new face to Hui No’eau – one that both our artists and collectors will gain from tremendously.

Hui: What draws you to this line of work?

Faulkner: It makes me feel good. I love it. I have a passion for it. I wake up every day and get excited about it. The idea of getting to create something new every day with and for my clients and having these great tools – the huge team of artists and consultants that I get to work with – is just terrific.

Hui: What developments have you noticed in the arts market, specifically in terms of your clientele, over the years?

Faulkner: It has been incredibly interesting to see developers and hotel owners becoming so much more open to new ideas over the years. A few years ago I had a client that specifically asked me not to show them anything “abstract.” So of course, I slowly worked it into my presentations, offering details about the process, the artist, the inspiration, until they inevitably changed their preference and wanted to see everything abstract. By educating people and explaining that their emotional responses are valid - that they don’t have to be specifically educated in art and art philosophy to have an opinion about the work to feel safe with it – they begin to become a part of the story. They begin to open up to these new ideas that Hawai‘i’s great wealth of artists are telling.

Hui: How does your work benefit the larger community?

Faulkner: I do this work for our island’s children. When I grew up here, I had ceramics, printmaking and painting in school. Public schools no longer have art as a core element of their curriculum. It’s important to me to see art getting out into public places so that children can be exposed to the wide range of benefits available to them simply by experiencing it as a viewer. I also advance this work as a volunteer with the Art in Public Places program through the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture & the Arts.

Hui: My understanding is that you meet a client first, get a thorough understanding of their wants and needs, and then customize a collection to meet those needs. The challenge of creating a collection by and for the public at a community arts center is somewhat different, how will you approach your jurying task next week? What are your goals?

Faulkner: I’m not coming in with any preconceived notions about what this exhibition should look like; I really can’t prepare myself for something like this. I want to remain open until I see the body of work and then I will like to see a cohesive show. I will look for work that is beautifully crafted and tells an unusual story – work that is unique in some way and that fits the space well. There really aren’t enough good venues for artists to show their work on Maui. It seems like the history and standing of the Hui afford it a great opportunity for risk-taking and for highlighting new artists and ideas. There are so many truly talented, skillful artists in Hawaii right now. This a great opportunity to educate our communities about where our arts movement is and where it’s headed.

Hui No‘eau is also honored to once again welcome the Acquisition Award Selection Committee of the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (HSFCA) for a formal exhibition visit. Part of the State’s Art in Public Places Program, which serves to strengthen the State Foundation’s capability to "stimulate, guide and promote culture and the arts, history and the humanities" through the field of the visual arts, the Committee makes recommendations to the HSFCA regarding the purchase of works of art. Selected artwork is rotated throughout Hawai‘i state buildings to ensure the widest possible audiences have access to view these works thereby preserving works of art expressive of the character of the Hawaiian Islands. Paired with Faulkner's experience and inter-island client relationships, these opportunities ensure a broad reach for all exhibiting artists.

The 2013 Hui No’eau Annual Juried Exhibition is free and open to the public January 5th through February 18th, from 10 am – 4 pm. Admission is free.

Painting by Julie Houck

Monday, December 17, 2012

Meet Andre Morissette, Designer of "The Dress" at Hui Holidays!

Morissette's work in-progress. Genius alert!
Just 1 more week remains to enjoy Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center’s annual HUI HOLIDAYS tradition. Enjoy free admission to our nearly 100-year old Kaluanui Estate, built in 1917 for Harry & Ethel Baldwin, original inhabitants and founders of the community arts center, boasting the remains of Maui’s oldest sugar mill, 70+ species of plants and trees (pick up your plant guide at the front desk to learn more!), The Kaluanui History Room, 6 professionally equipped core arts classrooms (buzzing with creativity, students and open studio users each day), the new “What Makes Maui MAUI” mural installation by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s own Shira Walinsky, the “On the Wild SideStickwork sculpture by world-renowned artist  Patrick Dougherty, and – of course – Hui Holidays: our annual artisan’s boutique featuring the finest arts and handmade items set at accessible prices by Maui artists.

Back by popular demand, the Hui proudly welcomed designer/ choreographer Andre Morissette to create this year’s holiday “window” installations alongside Maui artist Nancy Skrimstad and a crew of Hui angels. Located in the former dining room space of the Kaluanui Estate, Morissette’s paper dress installation has wow’ed hundreds of Hui visitors, both old and new, inspiring a demand for further details about this fierce and fabulous innovator:

HUI: Tell us a little bit about your design background - were you formally trained?

MORISSETTE: I am formerly a dancer who started to do design work costuming dance shows, musicals and plays. I do not have formal training in design but my training in dance and choreography are a big part of my design work.
HUI: Why do you design? How long have you been doing this kind of work?

MORISSETTE: Because it is creative work and I just like to let my imagination run wild! In 2001, I was introduced to paper as a medium when I had the opportunity to work on a project in collaboration with Linda McGehee, visual arts teacher at Seabury Hall  involving her soft sculpture students and my dance students. The result was “Paper Trail” a dance piece loosely based on paper and its various uses through history. The project incorporated wearable forms made out of butcher paper created by the art students and showcased by the dancers in the fashion runway section of the dance. Most of the props in the dance were also made out of butcher paper. In 2007, I decided to reset the dance adding more wearable forms that I designed and constructed myself. That’s when I started to play with paper. When Caroline Killhour (the Hui’s executive director) asked me last year to create two installations for the Christmas House at the Hui, I decided to bring the concept of paper dress to the next level. 

HUI: Last year was your first dress installation for the Hui - Why did you design another for this year's Hui Holidays?

MORISSETTE: Last year’s installation was a big success. I was going to explore another medium this year but the use of butcher paper to create art work was very appealing to Caroline, so we decided to repeat the concept and push it further.

HUI: Where do you find your artistic inspiration?

MORISSETTE: The inspiration comes from the challenge. I set the challenge and then figure out how I can make this happen. This challenge was to create a dress that would be totally different from the previous one. Last year dress was stately. This year I wanted to do a dress that floats in space. Most of my creative process is problem solving. How am I going to suspend the dress? What do I have to do for the dress to hold it’s shape? How am I going to wrap the paper on the form and give it the shape I want. After a while the work speaks to you and you just go with it.

HUI: Tell us about some of the reactions you have been hearing/ seeing to your dress - any funny or surprising ones?

MORISSETTE: At first people are amazed by the impressive scale of the dress. It takes up a whole room. On opening night the dress was glowing from the inside which you cannot really see during the day. Then they are captivated by the details, the intricacy of the folds, the texture of the paper, the rope details on the bodice, the hat. One woman was so excited about the dress that she wanted to have her wedding dress made out of paper and ask me if I would design her dress.

HUI: What’s next for Andre Morissette!?

MORISSETTE: I am designing costumes for the musical “Hello Dolly” produced by Seabury Hall Performing Arts and I am resetting my dance “Paper Trail” which incorporated paper costumes to be performed at Seabury Hall Dance Showcase in April 2013.

Visit Hui Holidays and Morisette’s DRESS, described by Darrell Orwig, our 2011 Retrospective Artist and 40+ year veteran of the Maui fine arts circle, as “such a fun piece that gives a visual bonus to the whole exhibition!” at Hui No’eau located at 2841 Baldwin Avenue in Makawao 7 days a week, now through Dec 24 from 10 am – 4 pm. Admission is free.

Photo by Aubrey Hord

Photo by Aubrey Hord

Photo by Aubrey Hord

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hui Holidays: Ceramics Takes Center Stage

Hui Senior Programs Manager Anne-Marie Forsythe enjoying the Hui Holidays Pottery Sale

View of the Hui's ceramics studio, powered by solar energy!

Hui teaching artist Bob Flint teaching a ceramics class
Since opening on November 19th, Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center’s annual “Hui Holidays” tradition has welcomed hundreds of new visitors to its public Kaluanui Estate campus. One of 8 annual exhibitions in the historic home, Hui Holidays features a wide and whimsical range of artwork and gifts set at accessible prices. Talented members of our local artists’ community have created unique work in jewelry, ceramics, prints, fiber, photography, glass and paintings, plus handmade ornaments and much more, with sales supporting the educational programs of this nonprofit visual arts center.

Ask the majority of the Hui’s new guests what prompted them through the Hui gates and you’ll find that they are largely ceramics enthusiasts, “we saw the pottery sale sign outside! Which way do we go?” It’s thrilling to see such enthusiasm for this age-old art form, offering a great way to engage folks in what has evolved to be one of the Hui’s most wildly popular programs.

One attribute that sets the ceramics program apart from the other core Hui arts programs is the consistent buzz of energy in the studio; ceramicists and firing techs trading technical tips, discussions comparing ceramics in different parts of the world, friends catching up on missed sessions, and the general goings-on of an arts subculture; a talented group of artists bound together by a common purpose- to unlock their creativity- to form their own community.

“The Hui ceramics program offers an environment of constant creativity and continual innovation through its numerous classes, workshops, and Open Studio Program, in the most well facilitated ceramics studio available for public use on Maui,” says Deb Zaleski, the Hui’s ceramics studio manager, “Our members share and exchange ideas and experiences in an open forum setting, and continue to experiment with a variety of forming, glazing and firing techniques, offering endless possibilities while encouraging inspiration and personal expression.”

Most people, when they hear the word ceramics, think dinnerware and tiles. While these traditional products have been and continue to be important, a new class of ceramics has emerged- sculptural, provocative, nonfunctional forms that inspire narrative and initiate dialogue. Earlier this year, the Hui presented a retrospective exhibition of ceramicist Jennifer Owen's work, an artist who’s “Hui History” began in 1982.  She recalls coming in for an interview with Rob Spenser (“I got so dressed up, I had no idea what I was in for!”) to talk about a teaching gig and left with a position that would have her heading the ceramics department for the next 23 years. She hand drew a sign for a pottery class and found it easy to sign people up for 5 – 8 week sessions. “It was a real ‘ohana, a home away from home for so many of us that were looking for studio space and new ideas” she recalls, “we slowly built structure into a formal ceramics program; we designed rules in cooperation with the Hui arts administrators, held monthly meetings and work days, built tables, paved the stable floors, and we taught everyone that wanted to learn.”

When asked how Owen felt about sharing her retrospective body of work with the Hui community this year, she responded, “I’m very excited about the people that are just becoming a part of this place. The Hui is the best community of artists on Maui where all those exchanges can happen. This is such an incredible environment. Coming here as an artist is also spending time in one of the most beautiful places on the island, and it's forever changing and evolving. For those that have not been here before: you’re in for a surprise!”

We hope you will join us in viewing our spectacular Hui Holidays pottery pieces- and much more. Open every day from 10 am – 4 pm until December 24, with gallery items evolving each week at 2841 Baldwin Avenue in Makawao.  Admission is free.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Chat with Infinite Blue Juror Rich Richardson

Rich Richardson

September's receiving day for the Hui’s traditional color-themed exhibition, Infinite Blue (following last year’s Visualizing Green and 2009’s Primarily Red) yielded 283 distinct interpretations of  BLUE by Maui artists. It was a wild day of conversation and creativity- breaking new records and welcoming old friends like Infinite Blue juror Rich Richardson into the Hui gallery.

20 years ago, Rich served as the Hui’s exhibitions coordinator, working alongside Linda Doyle, Claudia Johnson and Judy Bruder, a team he said “taught me about community…and made salads that were works of art beyond anything the Hui walls had ever seen.” Rich earned an MA in Creative Arts Interdisciplinary Studies from San Francisco State University, and has been a working artist in Hawaii for 18 years. He does curating, public relations, exhibit & performance programming, was owner of pioneer Chinatown art gallery salon5, an adjunct Professor of Art at Hawaii Pacific University, helped to establish First Friday Honolulu and recently received the Rotary Club Kalama Award with a proclamation from the Mayor of Honolulu for “Excellence in the Perpetuation of the Arts & Culture.”

During a cool 15 minute break with the juror, we sat down and chatted about the challenge our Hui artists had presented him with today: selecting the 51 pieces to be unveiled during the next weekend’s opening of the highly-anticipated “Infinite Blue” exhibition.

Kelly: My favorite question: we’ve read your bio, we know what jobs you’ve had and where you’ve studied, but why do you do what you do?

Rich: Joseph Campbell said “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” Art makes me happy, so I’ve just tried to build my life in the pursuit of that happiness. And there are so many avenues of the arts to explore over the course of a lifetime (in addition to creating it). As an arts administrator, I create an ecosystem for the arts; I have always been interested in creating a community in support of the arts and thereby in fostering creativity.

Kelly: Perfect segue! The Hui’s mission speaks to unlocking creativity through education and creating a space for community arts. Why do you think it’s important to have a “Hui”?

Rich: This is where I learned to be a part of a community- I feel so thankful to Hui No‘eau for the experience that I enjoyed here; I’ve carried those lessons with me to my new home on Oahu and tried to provide a safe learning environment for people to experiment with their own creative passions. It’s so important to create and provide the environment.

Kelly: Oftentimes, Hui staff are asked the question, “why wasn’t my piece selected?” Before I hand out your cell phone number, can you talk a bit about why you are making the selections you are making today from all of the submissions we received yesterday?

Rich:  I use a pretty simple kind of dualism: potential to be successful and experienced art making shown through technical precision. Which isn’t to say I am looking for something fine tuned and perfected, but an idea worth exploring again and again and again – work that deserves follow up and even more work. We’re all sharing a similar physical environment- I want to see a new approach to defining that that steers away from depictions of Hawai‘i that I’ve seen before. I’m looking for an original and innovative approach to reorganizing elements of line color and shape.

Kelly: What is your overall impression of the caliber of Hui artists?

Rich: The caliber of arts making is very high here. Maui has a very enviable concentration of artists and a cohesive arts community that is well intact. In other places, that sense of connection is far more difficult to find or it has to be created.

Congratulations to the following artists for having their work selected for “Infinite Blue,” free and open to the public 7 days a week from 10 am – 4 pm from October 6 through November 10, 2012. Mahalo nui loa to Rich Richardson for serving as juror and for sharing your great energy with us for a few short days on Maui.


Husa Adams
Gabby Anderman
Tania Arens
Byron W. Baker
Don Bernshouse
Roxanne Braddix
Michele Castagnetti
Melissa Chimera
Luana Coonen
Bill Cox
Tracy Dudley
Kandi Everett
Deybra Fair
Brad Forsythe
Carla Gangini
Tim Garcia
Carmen Gardner
Ditmar Hoerl
Caroline Killhour
Chenta Laury
Mary Ann Leigh
Terry Lopez
Claudio Marchetti
Kari McCarthy
Georgia Norton
Kevin Omura
Darrell Orwig
Zach Pezzillo
Ann Pistillo
Shane Robinson
Wendy Romanchak
Sterling Ross
Annemarie Sheehan
Jim Smith
Frank Snow
Roger B. Stephens
M. Takemoto
George Tengan
Tom Trottier
Tony Walholm
Donnette-Gene Wilson
Sally Worcester

Visit Infinite Blue now - Nov. 10, 7 days a week at the Hui from 10 am - 4 pm.

Hui No'eau Maui Mural Project: Pics & Update

Last week Hui No’eau welcomed Eric Okdeh to its once annual Artist-in-Residence roster. Joining us for a 3-week residency, Okdeh is currently executing the culminating portion of the two-part 2012 series, the Hui No’eau Maui Mural Project. Following in the wake of Shira Walinksy’s July residency, both lead artists with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Okdeh has been conversing, creating and collaborating with our Maui community to develop a large-scale work of public art that reflects, inspires and represents what we feel “makes Maui MAUI.” Walinksy’s 8’ tall x 16’ wide, double-sided mural is currently installed at the Kaluanui Rd. entrance to Hui No’eau. Okdeh’s mural is projected to reach 16’ tall x 39’ wide and, with the remarkable assistance of the County of Maui’s Redevelopment Agency reWailuku initiative, will be installed at the corner of Market & Main Streets in the heart of Wailuku, on the southward facing wall of Requests Music. The future of the program will rely heavily on the participation and reaction of our community – with the goal of collaborating with neighborhood organizations for years to come to develop a world-class public art program on Maui.  

We’re learning every day that art provides a powerful vehicle for communication, and, if enough people are communicating, for community improvement. Public art, especially, has the ability to touch the lives of entire communities. It offers not just a final piece, but an experience - making the places where we live, work and play more welcoming and beautiful, creating a deeper interaction with our environment, and allowing our community to express its identity and values…and to have fun doing it!

Take a look below at the progress of the October project and please visit, a website created by Oahu-based digital artist David Goldberg, for additional images, details and more. All three artists were engaged in this Hui initiative with the support of the Laila Twigg-Smith Art Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation. Free classes for pre-school aged children and professional development workshops for pre-school teachers are now being provided with the support of the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation. Curriculum development, paints, supplies, equipment and more have been sponsored by a long list of individual donors (which we will share soon!). With your help, we will reach our fundraising goal by the end of the month if you visit today to make a donation. Every dollar makes a difference.

August: Hui Youth Programs & Marketing Manager Kelly McHugh scopes out a wall after meeting with the County of Maui Redevelopment Agency's reWailuku team...imagine the possibilities!

September: Artist Eric Okdeh superimposes a design on the prospective mural wall he spent months devising from conversations with folks including Hokulani Holt, MACC Cultural Programs Director, Scott Fisher, HILT Director of Conservation, Irene Bowie of Maui Tomorrow, Priscilla Mikell and Kumu Ekela Kaniaupio-Crozier of Kemehameha Schools, Laura Larson of Keiki Kokua, Nancy Aleck of Hawai‘i People's Fund, and writer Paul Wood.

October: Upon Okdeh's Maui arrival, Hui No'eau hosts a public "coffee & conversation" event, inviting one and all to meet the artist, review his design and offer feedback to contribute to design revisions. (Pictured: Eric Okdeh, Kelly McHugh, Lanakila Kelliher, Tim Garcia, Briana Welker, Jen Russo, Lana Coryell, Jonathan Starr, Helen Nielsen).

Okdeh's first workshop, Murals & Representation, is attended by a group of (awesome) teens from Wailuku, Kihei and Makawao.

Using a traditional gridding system, participants blew up extreme close-up portraits to 5' x 5' mini mural paintings.

McHugh, Okdeh, and cultural and community adovacte Kainoa Horcajo talk story in Wailuku after collecting neighborhood signatures OK'ing the revised design. "Someone took this shot for us, Kelly and I going old school, and walking the main drag in Wailuku taking signatures and showing off the work. Kainoa is a very respected person in the town (all of Maui really), and a lifelong student of indigenous cultures. We spoke on this bench for over an hour, he broke down the meanings of the four streams of the West Maui Mountains, and spoke about pre-contact Maui. Fascinating person, we could have spoken for 3 more hours on that bench easy."

Okdeh's revised design

Okdeh's second hands-on art workshop "Mosaic Mural Making" segues into a nice collaboration with The Maui Glass Artists Association as they create glass portions to be installed with the final mural.

Okdeh's glass class hard at work!

Preschooler's from Wailuku's St. Anthony School participate in a free mural making Explore & Discover visit at the Hui... maybe we'll install this one on Main St. instead?

Free PUBLIC PAINT DAY event at the Hui, running late into the night. Pictured: Briana Welker, Tim Garcia, Eric Okdeh, Billy Welker.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Walk-Thru with Welker

Story submitted by the Hui’s own Keri Meyer. Mahalo, Keri!

Problems must be solved but mysteries are to be enjoyed unsolved—and we will be happier if we regard the universe and existence itself as mysteries. - Alan Watts  

Last Saturday, 2012 Solo Artist Exhibition presenter Billy Welker offered a free artist chat and walk-through of his featured series: “Configuration.” During the talk, Billy discussed both his passion for painting and personal insights into his creative process.  As his first public exhibition, the room was filled with admiration as he took us all on a historical jaunt through his perspective from his beginning to the present-day body of work.

Billy grew up in Detroit, MI with his interest in art beginning in elementary school.  A visit to the local library led to immediate inspiration by books he discovered about Picasso. Although his parents’ generation were more farm-life-driven and had no interest in art, they continued to foster their son’s creativity.  He studied art at university and was engaged from the start, learning from experienced teachers, and was able to further his knowledge and curiosity for drawing & sculpture.  He continued additional arts classes after school, but eventually stopped doing art altogether; this was a time of pop art and he realized he did not understand it.

For the next 35 years, Billy was immersed in the world of construction, until seven years ago when he again started painting and drawing.  After taking a drawing and a painting class at the Hui, he was able to start over and admits he did not feel any pressure; he knew he should “just do it”.  Entering into and being accepted into many exhibitions over the last few years gave him confidence in his work. The opportunity then presented itself to submit a proposal for the Solo Artist Show at the Hui for 2012. 

“Am I ready?” He was nervous about applying for the Solo Artist Show; it is a big step for any artists to put themselves out there.  Billy creates for himself and realizes it is a lot of work, but his mantra at this stage in life is to keep things as simple as possible.  Comparing tools and materials to construction, painting is much simpler.  It is a joy for him to be able to do something where he can still use his hands and his mind.  The application process for the Hui Solo Artist application aided in reminding him that he knows the value of deadlines and commitment.

A recent August 2012 article in the Huffington Post explored the possibility of Vincent van Gogh being colorblind, one of Billy’s favorite artists. As he himself is red-green colorblind, he has simplified his own palette to just a few colors. He begins to talk about his process for the paintings that we are warmly surrounded by in the gallery space at the Hui.  Portraits of his family take stage on the main wall as you walk into the room.  He makes sure to note that the portrait of his son is missing, only because the painting is on tour with the Schaefer Portrait Challenge now on Oahu.

Billy enjoys doing portraits and paints mostly from photographs, as he claims that he is a “slow painter” and it would not be fair for his subject to sit for him for weeks on end.  Billy continues to work his paintings until he is satisfied. He understands that there is a starting point and the process follows. Many of his works will start off with an entirely different image than the painting will end up with.  These ever-changing “moments in time” are seen as layers upon layers of paint strokes and gorgeous details upon the ¼ inch plywood he works upon.

As he often sets aside his work for periods of time, this distance from his artwork gives him the opportunity to come back refreshed and with a new perspective.  The journey forward could include many more changes such as adding more paint, sanding down the painting, wiping off the oil paint, covering up the whole canvas while he continues to rework each one over time.  It is an adventure for him as he allows himself to play in each painting and have fun with the creative process.  There is no end and he does not feel like he has to ever be finished.

One can see a portion of this process with the painting “Blithe in Blue”, starting out as a monstera leaf and then that image ending up as part of the fire surrounding the blue image in the background.

A guest asks if he takes pictures as he is going along in his process.  Billy tells the crowd about how he will take pictures while painting and then holds the image up to a mirror.  By reviewing the image in the mirror he is able to see the painting from a new angle.  His mind is relaxed and he can always see something he had not seen before, then move forward again in his work.

There was a time that Billy painted on his handmade canvases, but realized that because of the time and work that went into making these, he was treating them too preciously.  He was not allowing himself the freedom to loosen up in his paintings. He then switched to the ¼ inch plywood panels and ended up enjoying the smooth surface he continues to work on today.

In attendance was Hui Board Member Tim Garcia who commented on how he is moved by Billy’s choice of color palette, his subject content and how he is able to let the well-balanced paintings speak for themselves, “blows my mind,” he said.

The harmony, mystery and ambiguity in Billy’s own work is what he loves; the whole story is not given and leaves room for viewer interpretation.  A believer that art & philosophy go together, Billy discusses how art in the 1900’s is representative of a particular situation- a portrait; a bible scene; a war scene or a historical event.  Eventually he comments on how Picasso and other artists started “abstracting things”.  Billy is a fan of Arthur Danto, an American art critic and philosopher. As modern art starts to meld with philosophy, modern art now becomes no longer a picture; “the painting was about the painting, not the person or event any longer”.  Billy compares this to the likes of Jackson “Pollack with his paint drippings” or Mark “Rothko transcending and meditative”. Another favorite reference is Romanian Constantin Brancusi and his Endless Tower Sculpture, acclaimed as one of the great works of 20th century art.

Billy comments that artists should be able to express some kind of experience that goes beyond the surface; an appreciation of an artists’ work can sometimes be a challenge without the background of what the artist is attempting.  However, the mere act of contemplating the artwork should be enough, there should not be the need to fully understand everything the artist is trying to convey, this is where the magic lies; life is like this. One of Billy’s favorite artists Pierre Bonnard says "It's not a matter of painting life, it's a matter of giving life to painting."

Welker & his work

Visit Billy Welker’s “Configuration” and Valerie Yong Ock Kim’s “Light Speed Matter, A still Place Waiting” at Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center through September 21, 2012.  Gallery hours are Monday-Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hui No'eau Welcomes Juror Rich Richardson

Hui No'eau is pleased to announce Rich Richardson, Executive Director of HAPA: Hawaii Academy of Performing Arts, Chinatown Artists Lofts & The Arts at Marks Garage, as the guest juror for its annual color-themed exhibition, this year’s beingInfinite Blue.”

“It is such an honor to be invited back to the great art, atmosphere, and family of friends at the Hui!” remarks Richardson, “‘Blue’ is such a luxurious point of departure for creating art...I love somber art, and funny art. I like art that mixes mediums or cultural references. Uniqueness, simplicity and surprise are key. Focus and skill are good too. Above all, enjoy the process!”

With a Masters degree in Creative Arts Interdisciplinary Studies from San Francisco State University, Rich has been a working artist in Hawaii for 18 years as a curator and consultant in public relations, exhibitions and performance programming. He was owner of pioneer Chinatown art gallery salon5, an adjunct Professor of Art at Hawaii Pacific University, and helped to establish First Friday Honolulu. Between 1994 and 1997 he was Exhibits Coordinator at Hui No'‘eau and recently received the Rotary Club Kalama Award with a proclamation from the Mayor of Honolulu for "Excellence in the Perpetuation of the Arts & Culture."

For the “Infinite Blue” exhibition, artists are invited to creatively interpret the primary color, which holds historical significance in art, culture, and politics. From religious figures like Mary and Shiva to Picasso's Blue Period to Delta blues music, this hue invokes coolness and electricity, melancholy and serenity, and appears in shades such as cobalt, ultramarine, and those found in our islands' water and sky. Past Hui No’eau color-themed exhibition jurors include sculptor Stephen Freedman for the 2011 “Visualizing Green” exhibition and Paia Contemporary Gallery Director Lauren Harris for 2009’s “Primarily Red.”

Infinite Blue - A Community Art Making Challenge
October 6 - November 10, 2012
Receiving Day: Monday, September 24 / 9am-5pm / Solarium
Opening Reception: Friday, October 5 / 5-7pm
Prospectus & entry form: download at

Lecture with the Juror: Monday, September 24 / 5:30-6:30 pm / FREE / Media Lab
Rich will present a slideshow and speak about how art has been used to change Honolulu's Chinatown neighborhood.

This exhibition is generously supported by Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Hawaii's air-tour leader for over 25 years.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hoxie Nominated for 2012 Michael H. Lyons II Palaka Award

Hui No`eau Visual Arts Center is proud to announce its Vice President John Hoxie has been named as one of the 12 Maui nominees for the Rotary Club of Kahului’s annual Michael H. Lyons II Palaka Award.

Awarded to those who exemplify the highest ideals of volunteer service to a nonprofit organization and the Rotary's motto "Service Above Self," the award is also a fundraising vehicle for the club's Michael H. Lyons II Scholarship Fund. Originally created in honor of Rotarian Michael H. Lyons’ tireless community support, the award is named for the signature palaka shirts he wore and is presented to those who epitomize the community spirit of Lyons.

A former Hui No‘eau Board President, current Vice President, executive committee member, facilities committee member, development committee member as well as artist, patron, member and donor, John’s 10 years of participation and support of the nonprofit organization has been a critical tool to its success as a high-quality arts education resource center and historic community gathering place. 

Believing whole-heartedly in the Hui’s mission to unlock creativity through exceptional visual arts education, John is committed to ensuring the Hui remains a public asset in our community for years to come. His leadership during the 2005 “Save the Hui, Buy Kaluanui” campaign was instrumental in purchasing the 25-acre estate, helping to raise $5.5 million by meeting with countless donors and securing $500,000 from the State. Recognizing the importance in stewarding the historic estate for all, John supported the establishment of the Kaluanui Preservation & Stewardship Program with the Facilities Master Plan Committee in order to protect the history, natural beauty, and continual community access of Kaluanui. As current Chair of the Facilities Committee, John takes personal responsibility in safeguarding a successful future for the Hui by overseeing the preservation of the estate and proactively exploring opportunities to meet the needs of our community through facility improvements and safety.

As a Rotarian for over 25 years and a former President of the Rotary Club of Maui, John takes the “Four-Way Test” to heart. During these challenging economic times, as Hui President and Vice President, John has helped lead the Hui through difficult decision making, always taking into account if the actions will be beneficial and fair to the staff, Hui No’eau and our community of artists, students, patrons and visitors. John’s countless hours of volunteerism and tenacity to ensure the Hui’s well-being exemplifies “Service Above Self” and transcends beyond his duties as a board member. Believing in the importance of community and giving back, John has also served as a Board Member of Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation, Past President and Director of Maui Country Club and is currently the Vice Chair of the Maui Board of Water Supply and is a Super Donor of the Blood Bank of Hawaii.

“Always caring, honest and sincere, John exudes the Aloha spirit,” remarks Hui Executive Director Caroline Killhour, “The Hui would not be the exceptional institution it is today without John’s participation and support.”

The Rotary Club of Kahului will recognize the 2012 finalists and announce the 2012 Palaka Award winner at the King Kamehameha Golf Club during a special luncheon on Friday, August 24.  Please join us in congratulating John for being recognized for his formidable service to the arts, education, and community!

About Hui No`eau Visual Arts Center
The mission of Hui No`eau is to unlock creativity through exceptional visual arts education. The Hui provides a wide range of programs that support lifelong learning in the arts including public classes and visiting artist workshops, open studios, lectures, exhibitions, community art events, historical house tours and educational outreach programs with schools and community partner organizations. One of the last of its kind on Maui, the Hui is a nonprofit, non-degree granting, community arts education organization offering open access to quality arts instruction by teaching artists. Our programs and services are accessible to all, regardless of artistic aptitude or ability to pay tuition.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Teen Artist Donates to Hui No’eau Youth Scholarship Program

Earlier this year, Hui No’eau was contacted by 19-year old youth programs alum Talia Gangini, one of the world’s top-rated stand-up paddlers as well as a handcrafted jewelry artist & entrepreneur.  Having acquired her love and skill for the arts in the Hui studios, Talia proposed her “Craft for a Cause” idea: to gather sponsorships for an independent paddling adventure between Maui, Lanai and Molokai that would raise money for the Hui youth scholarship program; helping other kids to have access to the same opportunity that she did.

An independent jewelry artist, avid Hui open studio user and alumni of the Hui's youth art program, Talia enrolled in her first Hui youth jewelry class at age 14. After quickly becoming one of the strongest open studio users, she became the youngest artist to ever have her work displayed on the cover of  the internationally recognized Sports Illustrated magazine. That same summer, Talia also became the youngest girl to paddle in the Molokai to Oahu Championships, finishing with her team in first place. She has now paddled across the Kaiwi Channel seven times as well as the Pailolo Channel from Maui to Molokai via traditional paddle board, OC-1 outrigger canoe, stand up paddle & six man canoe.

Last week, Talia met with youth programs & marketing manager Kelly McHugh, executive director Caroline Killhour and vice president of the Hui’s Board of Directors John Hoxie to present a donation for the $3,000 that she was able to raise during this incredible feat.

“It had been about 1 year since I thought of the idea. I knew that it was time to start. If I was going to make a difference, then I should probably start in my own Home town and community,” remarks Gangini, “I am so happy that I was able to make some kind of difference in a hope to give children of Maui the chance that I had whether it be photography, silk screening, jewelry or painting. I can't wait to continue this each year and hope to give more.”

“Talia’s act of philanthropy at such a young age is a true testament to the impact of arts education on our youth,” remarks Killhour, “Now more than ever, as public arts funding is consistently the fist to be cut in these tough economic times, it is so important to support initiatives like Talia’s that keep these programs accessible to all- and continually shape positivity, self-expression and independence in our future leaders.”

It is expected that Talia’s scholarship donation will provide access to high-quality, sequential visual arts instruction for 30 – 50 youth aged 5 – 17 this year. Visit to browse our offerings and to access the Hui’s scholarship application today!

Feedback from Talia: "In February of this year I was when I starting planning and really setting my mind to Craft for a Cause it had been about 1 year since I thought of the idea. I knew that it was time to start. If I was going to make a difference, then I should probably start in my own Home town and community by combining Land and Sea, the Art and Paddling world. It was such an amazing and unforgettable experience I had about 30 friends and family that came along for the Maui to Lanai crossing. We wouldn't have been able to ask for a better day the wind was perfect the sun was shining. After paddling to Lanai we had a big family style Pot luck picnic lunch on the Trilogy and enjoyed exploring and snorkeling right off the beautiful cliffs of Lanai, It was a very blessed day. I would not have been able to accomplish this event without Trilogy, Friends and family who supported it, everyone who came along on the boat donated at least $25.00 and moral support. The next week I paddled from Maui to Molokai the conditions were supposed to be totally flat with no wind which is not a good thing. I want it to be windy with a lot white caps, it ended up being another great day out in the Pailolo channel but nothing like the weekend before. I am so happy that I was able to make some kind of difference in a hope to give children of Maui the chance that I had whether it be photography, silk screening, jewelry or painting. I can't wait to continue this each year and hope to give more."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Makes Maui MAUI

Each year, Hui No‘eau has selected individuals that are making a profound community engagement impact via the visual arts and invited them to share their talents, tools and time with our Hui as an artist in residence. Ranging in length from 2 – 4 weeks, these intensive arts experiences generate new and lasting relationships and ideas, offering people from all walks of life a fresh opportunity to connect with ART. Whether it’s spending 8 hours helping to remove hundreds of saplings of invasive strawberry guava that will become a giant sculpture (On the Wild Side, 2011) or simply spending 1 hour at a panel discussion chatting with social justice advocates about how after-school programs can give at-risk youth a stronger voice to actively define community issues important to them (Many Stories, Many Voices, 2010), we strive for inclusion in each Artist in Residence program planning process.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been 14 days since Philadelphia-based muralist Shira Walinsky and her trusty sidekick Adam Corrigan landed on Maui to conduct their July 2012 Artist Residency at the Hui. A collaboration that has lasted more than 6 months to date, their introductory installment to the Hui No‘eau Maui Mural Project will be completed just hours before their departure tomorrow, July 20th.

“It has been very exciting to have such experts in the field come to Maui to share their process, enthusiasm and unique point of view,” remarks Hui Executive Director (and Philadelphia native) Caroline Killhour, “I love that Philadelphia is known as the “City of Murals,” and that it is a social norm to interpret neighborhoods there through large-scale works of high-quality art. It’s so interesting to now see our island interpreted this way, and all of the shared visions from members of our community translated.”

Working closely with both the Hui programs team and a collection of volunteer consultants representing various fields, interest groups and points of view, Shira continually sketched design drafts, sending them out for feedback and then changing direction – all a response to various notions of “What Makes Maui MAUI.”

“There have been so many contrasting points of view; such a fascinating window into this new world,” remarks Walinksy, “but more than anything, there is a deep connectedness to and respect for the natural world here and it’s conversation with an ever-growing population.”

Shira’s design (which was still changing as of yesterday, as the first parachute cloth panels were being adhered to the free-standing mural structure on the Hui lawn), incorporates elements of ocean, sky and mountain, taro, canoe and telephone wire. She combines her specialized collage style with woodcut areas (enlarged from a piece she made on-site in our printmaking studio), complemented by luscious color and vivid contrast.

Want to see for yourself? Stop by the Hui tonight for your first chance to see the completed piece and last chance to meet Shira & Adam before they head back to Philly tomorrow afternoon:

Thursday, July 19: Artist Chat & Presentation with Artist-in-Residence Shira Walinsky: Join us in bidding bon voyage to public art expert Shira Walinsky who will share slides of her work with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, talk about her work igniting social change via the visual arts, and engage in conversation about the process of creating the first installment to the Hui No’eau Maui Mural Project. (5:00 PM / FREE)

Want to be a part of the Hui No‘eau Maui Mural Project? Join us in October as we welcome Eric Okdeh, Shira's colleague, also from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

Read more:
The Hui No’eau Maui Mural Project: Preliminary Sketches!
A Chat with Muralist Shira Walinksy


Shira Walinsky

Assistant Artist
Adam Carrigan

Planning Team
Kelly McHugh
Anne-Marie Forsythe
Lana Coryell

Build Volunteers
Andrew Brodzinski
Don Bernshouse
Gilson Killhour

Mural Students
Lana Davis
Kalyn Dorheim
Sedona Estomo
Audrey Ginger
Gabe Killhour
Valentin Miro Quesada
Kenui Smythe-Fujiwara
Annie Terwilliger
Elliott Cost
Rosario Virasoro
Jen Russo
Laurie Furumoto
Mike Takemoto
Matthew Clement
Connie Adams

Mural Painters
Tim Garcia
Valentin Miro Quesada
Caroline Killhour
Lisa Morrison
Danno Kolohe Weiss

Mural Consultants
Hokulani Holt, Cultural Programs Director, Maui Arts & Cultural Center
Rae Takemoto, Vice Principal, Pomaikai Elementary School
Kahulu Maluo, Halau Kumu & Arts Administrator, Maui Arts & Cultural Center
Paul Wood, Writer, Teacher, Radio Personality
Priscilla Mikell, Kamehameha Schools Maui
Nancy Aleck, Executive Director, Hawai‘i People's Fund
Jen Russo, Maui Time Weekly
Robin Curammeng, Art Teacher, Maui High School
Scott Fisher, Director of Conservation, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust
Tim Garcia, Maui Sculptor & Hui Board Member
Valentin Miro-Quesada, Artist
Shai-Anne Shamblin, Artist
Paul Janes-Brown, Vision Actualizer
Moani Wagner, Executive Director, Hawaiian Cultural Practices Institute
Irene Bowie, CEO of Maui Tomorrow
Sally Raisbeck, Maui Peace Action
Helen Nielsen, President, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust
Michael Moore, Owner & Mastermind of Star Noodle, Old Lahaina Luau and Leoda's Kitchen

Monday, July 2, 2012

Meet the Hui's 2012 Solo Artists

Valerie Kim: "Mi'o 1, Swiftly As a Stream of Water, Kohala"

Billy Welker, "Self Portrait"

Each year, Hui No‘eau’s exhibition committee distributes an open call to Hawai‘i artists in search of proposals for the Solo Artist Exhibition. In January, the committee members chose two remarkable individuals from the pool of applicants: Valerie Yong Ock Kim, a photographer from the Big Island, and Haiku painter Billy Welker.

Val’s series is called "LIGHT SPEED MATTER, A STILL PLACE WAITING," and is comprised of photographic archival pigment prints, a video projection, and a new presentation of photographs in cast glass. It is broken into three parts: Still Image, Refractions, and Chasing Photons. Images were made in places like Chicago, London, California and the Hawaiian Islands. They suspend the viewer in a frozen yet moving landscape, at the edge of a black hole, where time slows down and a still place is found.

Billy will present “Configuration,” a collection of portraits and figure studies in oils. The figure as subject is simultaneously basic and familiar, intimidating, spiritual and emotional. His own interest in the figure as inspiration stems from the irresistible and timeless urge to document and celebrate humanity, and a regard and fascination for art and human history.

This exhibition provides the community with intimate access to the participating artists, gaining a critical perspective on the way they work, and how and why their body of work came to be. Artists are invited to “tell their stories” — so we checked in with Billy and Val to learn more about their unique backgrounds in art-making, creative processes, and why they do what they do.

What is your history with art-making?

Val: I picked up a camera as a kid, chasing my sister around the house in Kahaluu (Oahu). I always wanted to be an artist, and loved to sketch and draw, but as the daughter of a science teacher and electrical engineer, it didn’t seem practical at the time. I was in the psychology field for 10 years, and even then incorporated visual images into my work. I have no formal training, but throughout the last decade have taken opportunities to study with different artists and printers. This series began in 2003.

Billy: I hung on to a childlike fascination with drawing longer than most. After studying fine arts at Wayne State University in Detroit, I stepped away from it for 30 years — broke, and baffled at “modern art” — and learned carpentry and contracting. This satisfied a compulsion to engage mind and hands to solve puzzles, and paid the bills to raise a family. In 2005, I injured my right arm badly enough to require three months’ inactivity in a sling. During this time I signed up for a figure drawing class at the Hui taught by Caleb O’Connor. I followed this with a painting workshop; a forgotten pleasure, though I quickly remembered it as all-consuming, hard work. I have since retired from contracting and now paint every day. At age 63, this is my first solo exhibition. As de Kooning once said, “Imagine, a grown man, and I paint pictures.”

Why did you apply for this exhibition, and what has been your experience creating work for it?

Val: The Hui is very prestigious, and I saw the opportunity to really explore what the work is about, and the concepts, rather than just filling the space with beautiful, saleable art. It’s great to have deadlines, so I’ve started to hone in on the writing aspect as a way to talk to myself – starting with the image, then fleshing out the answers why… I’m interested in the journey of self-discovery through image making. I take pictures while traveling, or sitting in the passenger seat of a car, watching the world go by. Shooting pictures is like planting seeds — then the harvesting work begins.

Billy: It’s an incredible opportunity to have a show at Hui No‘eau, a special organization that supports and fosters creativity, an abstruse essential that elevates our human condition. This impending exhibition instills discipline, narrows my options, and further defines my style. I paint in the joy of solitude and personal and intimate effort, with few rules and no ending. I search for solutions to a self-inflicted puzzle, often amused by unanticipated images that mysteriously emerge to provide direction. I’m a very slow painter — often working a piece till I don't understand it any longer. I may then set it aside, sometimes for months. Many of my figures are created without models or visual reference other than a peek at a mirror to determine the physiology of a gesture. Some paintings in this exhibition have been in progress for more than a year and a half and I often feel they will never be “finished.” A deadline provides positive restriction to my discontent.

What connections do you strive to convey between your work and the community?

Val: Art serves to carry people to an emotional place they either love, or are stimulated by — some place they want to be. I think there is a “still place” in each of us that is actually an interior place — a common, yet cosmic interior place we go to — where the noise stops. I think I make work that attempts to be a touchstone for this place. We all have our own little dramas, but there are universal connections between us. My work explores these walls that we put up; they are there to protect and defend us, but also serve to link us to others.

Billy: The human figure is familiar and comprehensible, evocative and enigmatic, and the vessel of emotion; a traditional and challenging subject. Within this, I play and explore to make pictures that may not necessarily be understandable or logical, but with thought, experience and the senses — including humor — become universally recognizable.

Learn about past Hui No'eau Solo Artist Exhibitions:
2012 Announcement
2011 Artists
2011 Opening
2010 Announcement
2009 Announcement
2009 Artists

"Having the opportunity to create a new body of work for the Hui No'eau solo exhibition challenged me to produce a visually and conceptually strong exhibition. It was an honor to show a collection of my work in such a beautiful and accessible gallery space."
–Abigail Lee Kahilikia Romanchak (2006 Solo Artist)

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Chat with Muralist Shira Walinksy

On Thursday, July 5, Hui No‘eau will welcome the first of 2 mural artists to Maui as part of its 2012 Artist-in-Residence program: Shira Walinsky of Philadelphia, PA.

With an MFA in painting from the University of Pennsylvania, Shira Walinsky is a painter, printmaker and muralist who has been a featured artist with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program since 2000. Her interdisciplinary work explores cultures and subcultures of distinct urban areas that use personal narratives to reflect larger issues, transform public spaces, and develop a visual language using typography, portraits and textiles. She serves as co-teacher with Jane Golden, Director and pioneer of the Mural Arts Program, at the University of Pennsylvania, University of the Arts, Princeton University, Bryn Mawr College and Drexel University.

To learn more about this exciting program, you can check out our website or scroll down to read previous blog posts. To learn more about on!

Talk about painting in large-scale- what about this appeals to you as an artist?
I have always loved big painting. I like the scale of a piece in relation to human scale. Large painting and sculpture can take you in the way a movie can- you are surrounded by it.

What is it that appeals to you about the collaborative art-making process?
I like  being  in the mix of the real world people, their present and histories. I like that collaborative work can push you to expand your understanding of your work and the world you live in.  

Do you ever struggle with the compromise between the direction/s of a group work vs. that prompted by your own artistic vision?
Yes this is a struggle in most work with communities. How do you balance what you have heard from people and that which you aesthetically love and can stand by? There is always a very interesting push and pull. Ultimately, the work does live and with communities and you need to do the utmost to respect this while not comprising too much so work becomes watered down.

What is community? Why is it important?
A group of people connected by a commonality. We are essentially social beings and need other people. Community can create change, problem solve, support.

What have been the biggest changes to the process of developing a mural on Maui (guerrilla territory) vs. one on your home turf (Philly)?
I think it's always tricky to go into a situation as an outsider to create something reflective of that place which is authentic. This happens going from neighborhood to neighborhood in Philadelphia, where you can also be perceived as an outsider. In Philadelphia, I am currently working on a project with refugee communities from Burma and Bhutan. Though we inhabit the same city I go in as outsider and have to research, talk to people gain trust and navigate through some language barriers. Each mural in Philadelphia has had a slightly different process but they all involve listening, talking to people showing a design and getting responses to the design. So far there have been many great conversations about Maui, but I think a big change is coming in without a baseline of familiarity with place. Murals in Philadelphia are created in conjunction with an artist, a site and a community. What is a big change with this project is the complete unfamiliarity with the site. I have never been to Hawaii but am extremely excited to gain a sense of the place by seeing it in person. I think had I not had conversations I might have been way too overwhelmed by the physical beauty of Maui to do anything but drop my jaw and right straight to the ocean! (I'm an ocean lover in a landlocked east coast city).

How would you explain MAP to Maui? What are the fundamentals of your work there?
MAP is an organization run and founded by the  incredibly great and driven Jane Golden to paint walls in Philly. The program was originally directed at kids who had been sentenced for doing grafiitti to channel their talents by developing their art skills to create community-driven murals. Currently mural arts has a staff of about 30 people and somewhere between 50-70 artists a year paint murals.  Mural arts provides neighborhoods an opportunity to share their stories individually and collectively through the mural making process. Mural Arts provides classes for teens and also has a restorative justice program which stress community building through the mural making process. As a result there are over 3,00 mural in Philadelphia which each tell a story of people and place. The fundamentals of my work at MAP involve working with communities in conjunction with a project manager, designing and painting murals. I have also taught with Jane Golden which has really shaped my interest and love for murals!

Why do you work for MAP?
I love big painting, I love being a part of artwork which is connected to communities. I love learning and being challenged by communities. I like feeling that art is alive and connected to a place everyday. I like seeing people who might not have a connection become involved in various aspects of the mural making process whether its going to a mural meeting or being part of a paint day. I like being a facilitator to help people tell their stories.  I like the possibilities for new ways  to work with communities and art! Philadelphia is a city of characters I enjoy meeting them. Its a privilege to hear peoples' stories.You get to be part of small changes happening in the city; each time there is a mural a discussion is raised around the mural in relation to what people would like to see on the wall, plus questions about the history of the place and the vision for the future. I think these discussions are really important to help get people to frame their own histories and help define their own futures.

What creates a sense of HOME for you in Philadelphia?
Connection to my family, their history here, friends, people, connectedness. Painting murals has also made Philly home to me. With each project you become invested and learn about a new part of the city. You work there every day and this site becomes part of your routine. Not only just painting the mural but going to a coffee shop and talking to people on the street. In this way I feel connected to many neighborhoods in Philly.

What could make Philadelphia BETTER?
Better Schools! Better public education system, a cleaner city, more bike lanes, proactive forward thinkers. Inventors, thinkers. Issues around class and race still a problem. more money to the mural program. 

What is it that makes Philadelphia PHILADELPHIA?
 East coast post industrial, we say wuter not water, its people, its flavor, 100 degrees in the summer and snow in the winter. Bricks, old factories, revitalized downtown. Its a city whose character was formed by its immigrant groups coming from Eastern Europe, Italy, Ireland and German in the early 20th century. These close knit groups formed tight neighborhoods that were drawn to Philly for the work in factories, garment industry etc.. Once these industries shut down the city faced a decline in the 1970s. Philly was founded by William Penn and has an old city feel to it.

What is it that makes Maui MAUI? (I’ll ask once now and again at the end of your residency)
 From conversations so far I would say the amazing geography beauty of the landscape, being surrounded by ocean all the time, being connected to land and ocean, amazing light, color.. history.. need to understand more.. but reconciling with history with how to connect to the past.. what is the native Hawaiian voice, the mix of people and cultures.  But to be really honest I feel like I need more time, more conversations and to see for myself.

Talk a bit about the range of conversations you’ve had with Mauians- provide an overview of your research process thus far. What similarities & differences do you see in terms of defining community or sharing a communal voice (Philly vs. Maui)?
There have been some great conversations so far ranging from visual descriptions of place, proximity to the ocean which feeds, to great anecdotes about Hawaiian families playing music in their garages. There have been discussion about the native Hawaiian voice and some of the divisions between native Hawaiians and newcomers. So far, I get a real sense of connectedness between people on Maui. I think the process has been little different in terms of talking over the phone and getting the response of particular people. Frequently meetings through mural arts have a randomness to them. (I say this in a good way). A meeting is held at a school or a rec center in preparation for a mural and you don't know who will show up. It could be a mix of people- some who really are invested in the project, others who wander in and become invested through the process. Sometimes getting a community together happens in a more roundabout way. Its easy  to enter the neighborhood where you are doing a project and get a sense of the place by observing, going to a corner store , taking photos etc. I think there are so many murals in Philly that people are familiar with the visual vocabulary of murals. So far, the Maui mural has been a really special process. Speaking in a very directed way one-on-one has made me feel connected to the place, possibly more so than just flying in and observing. I've gotten so many great ideas and images, Ive gotten a sense of the layers of the place socio- economically, the flavor the culture the landscape. Actually the power of words is amazing through these conversations I feel like I've taken mini trips to Maui with each conversation.

Want to hear more? Join us at the Hui July 6 - 20 to enroll in one of Shira's workshops, volunteer as an artist-assistant, help us build the mural-base, or just talk story. Can't make it? Post your thoughts & ideas below.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Hui No’eau Maui Mural Project: Preliminary Sketches!

Preliminary sketches of the 2012 Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center Maui Mural Project, by Hui Artist-in-Residence Shira Walinsky (July 2012):

Six months ago, Hui No‘eau was introduced to 2 exemplary artists through the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Shira Walinsky & Eric Okdeh. Launched by 1984 Mayor Wilson Goode to eradicate the graffiti crisis plaguing the city, this “Anti-Graffiti Network,” as it was then known, hired the services of muralist Jane Golden to reach out to graffiti writers and to redirect their energies from destructive graffiti writing to constructive mural painting. 28 years later, Jane and her team have produced over 3,000 murals that have become a cherished part of the civic landscape and a great source of inspiration to the millions of residents and visitors who encounter them each year. Each piece is its own stunning work of art, but most importantly, they are visual products of a powerful and collaborative grassroots process that gives neighborhood residents a voice to tell their individual and collective stories, a way to pass on culture and tradition, and a vehicle to develop and empower local leaders. The process also engages thousands of Philadelphia’s at-risk children, youth, and adults who find their artistic voice, develop their self-confidence, and discover new ambitions while creating murals through numerous programs.

Over the course of the last 3 years, Hui No`eau has piloted its own mural arts program with partners including Kalama Intermediate School, Baldwin High School, 2010 Artist-in-Residence Orlando Reyes, and 2011 Visiting Artist Prime of the Oahu-based nonprofit 808 Urban. Upon meeting Jane late last year (after many years of hearing about her work), we became inspired to formalize our mural arts curriculum and seek grant support to invite artists from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program to Maui to share their toolbox for community organizing and artistic leadership. And now, in just 3 short weeks, we will welcome the first of 2 Philadelphia muralists: Shira Walinsky, who has been working with Maui representatives to design a large-scale public art mural that will reflect, inspire and represent our community. (Read more).

Past projects like the 2010 Politics of Paper/ Many Stories, Many Voices Artist-in-Residence program with Favianna Rodriguez and Orlando Reyes stressed a programmatic approach of creating art with emphasis on group dialogue, planning, and collaboration rather than individual creativity. The 2011 Ho‘ololi Artist-in-Residence program with “Stickwork” artist Patrick Dougherty used the visual arts to bring attention to the destructive potential of invasive plants- engaging both the Hui’s arts community as well as those interested in Hawai’i’s ecology and environmental stewardship. The 2012 Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center Maui Mural Project will specifically engage the larger community to develop a unified message through the language of art. By engaging the public in the research, planning and execution of the work, these public art programs allow the Hui to use the arts as a catalyst for building community.

Tell us what you think!

Shira has been chatting with Mauians for the past few months in an effort to brainstorm on her mural content. The questions that have been posed to our community are as follows:

1) What creates a sense of "home" for you here?
2) What would/ could make Maui "better" (whatever that means to you)
3) What is it that makes Maui "Maui"?

Take a look at some of the responses below & please send us some of your own.

1) What creates a sense of "home" for you here?
  • Safe neighborhoods.  People caring for one another.  Culture and arts that thrive.  An environment which reflects people who care about health and beauty, that is practical.
  • Natural beauty
  • A distinctive & comforting culture that is unlike anywhere else in the world
  • There is no such thing as I only we- modern Hawaiians straddle being in two cultures- find a balance between what elders have passed down and life in the present. Contemporary Hawaiians reach into the past

2) What would/ could make Maui "better"
  • If someone could do something about the rampant racial/ethnic prejudice that is here and no one wants to talk about.
  • LESS JUDGEMENT between the different types of people.
  • Respect the Hawaiian traditions and learn from their wisdom.
  • More venues to include older people
  • More venues, events, clubs
  • To stop burning cane!
3) What is it that makes Maui "Maui"?
  • This precipice we’re living on where everything is about to change (e.g. Olowalu, Makena)
  • Kapuna the old ways
  • Mix of cultures: Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, cultures, festivals and rituals, obon dance, kimono, Poi performances, family get togethers colorful connecting the past and the present 
  • Maui is a mixture of rural and urban life. You are a part of your environment - able to interact with the city and be very connected to the environment mountains parks, the ocean…Island mentality: you must make things work together... its 3,000 miles to go anywhere else. People help each other depend on one another- importance of networks
  • The relationship to the island that sustains and relationships with the community- ocean that feed you- connection to land and water- Maui means a network of relationships
  • new technologies windmills, use of sea water, the importance of the ocean
  • Green!  Green growing things everywhere all the time!  yay....
  • the country living.
  • The local agriculture, the whales!, the wonderful culture and artistic expressions that abound here, and making use of the wind.
  • The friendliness.
  • Maui seems for some reason easier to live a “conscious” life.. fewer outer distractions. Ex. Less traffic, less noise, less violence, less poverty... or at least it seems that way.
  • I think that the fact that we are surrounded by water infects us all. - i DO mean infect - it gets in  under our skin. Even if you don't play in the water at all.  It is the smell in the air, it is in the condensation of clouds, It is in the reflection of the sky,..the kind of plants that grow near the ocean.
  • an edgy paradise with all kinds of cultures coming together to inform each other with their particular way of showing reverence to nature.
Special thanks to the following for taking the time to share a piece of themselves with our mural team:

Hokulani Holt, Cultural Programs Director, Maui Arts & Cultural Center
Rae Takemoto, Vice Principal, Pomaikai Elementary School
Kahulu Maluo, Halau Kumu & Arts Administrator, Maui Arts & Cultural Center
Paul Wood, Writer-Teacher extraordinaire
Priscilla Mikell, Kamehameha Schools Maui
Nancy Aleck, Executive Director, Hawai‘i People's Fund
Jen Russo, Maui Time Weekly
Robin Curammeng, Art Teacher, Maui High School
Scott Fisher, Director of Conservation, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust
Michael Moore, Owner & Mastermind of Star Noodle, Old Lahaina Luau and Leoda's Kitchen

Other ways to get involved:

TEEN MURAL INTENSIVE with Artist-in-Residence Shira Walinsky – July 7 & 8 / 10 am – 4 pm
Students will explore a range of portrait possibilities using photography & collage, then enlarge images using traditional mural making techniques.

“TEACH THE TEACHERS” PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT with Artist-in-Residence Shira Walinsky – July 11 / 10 am – 4 pm
Teachers will discover the powerful educational components of mural making and come away with new tools for engagement and a mural arts curriculum by an experienced professional.

MURAL ARTS WORKSHOP with Artist-in-Residence Shira Walinsky – July 14 / 10 am – 4 pm
Participants will develop into mural artists for a day, putting their mark on this historic piece of public art and joining the team that helps transform a Maui space.

PANEL DISCUSSION with Artist-in-Residence Shira Walinsky & Friends – July 19 (6 – 7 pm)
Join us for an informative presentation by Shira and group panel discussion about the impact of community engagement through public works of art and mural making. Contribute your thoughts as we discuss the challenges and applications of art as a tool for social empowerment and change.

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