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.