Maui Arts & Entertainment

Art Maui 2012 – Witty & Wide-Ranging

March 30, 2012, 7:38 AM HST
* Updated March 30, 5:11 PM
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By Susan Halas

in the gallery

Art Maui is up at the MACC through April 20th. The show is free and open to the public The wooden panel seen here is by George Johnson. Susan Halas photo.

There’s a lot to see at this year’s Art Maui, the island’s leading juried show for creative people. First there’s the breadth of the show. It has 128 pieces selected from the hundreds submitted. There’s a little bit of everything: paintings, photos, ceramics, glass, woodworking, sculpture, fiber arts, printmaking, brush drawing, jewelry and furniture, it’s all there.

Echos of Many Movements

There are lots of references, some sly and some not so subtle, to earlier movements in the world of arts. Quite a few pieces would be more remarkable if they had not already been done before by Calder, Miro, Hoffman or de Kooning. Think of a movement, such as Dada or Surrealism and something in the room riffs on it.

As always regional  pieces make important thematic contributions. These include the photo of the fully loaded cane haul truck crossing the road by Byron Baker. Another good example is the view of cane smoke rising over the valley in the  graceful pastel by Kathleen O’Bryan. Many works reference a specific Hawaii place, person or time be it houses from the plantation era, monuments in ceramic with throwback to petroglyphs, or the fishing shrine at Maalaea. They are all about that certain place we call home.

site specific detail cane burn

Detail of cane burning smoke in a pastel by Kathleen O'Bryan. Susan Halas photo.


The overall eye for the show seems to come from juror Tom Kolbe. He is professor emeritus at the University of Hawaii’s Art Gallery on the Manoa campus. Kolbe has organized and curated over 200 exhibitions in his 29 years with UH. He was one of the original founders of Art Maui now in its 34th installment.


Where’s Waldo?

Perhaps the best part of the show is a certain Where’s Waldo? quality. It’s fun to look for the “in” jokes tucked away in the details of a larger work.

There’s a little fool-the-eye copy of a famous de Chirico surrealist painting tucked away in a trash heap of haul-away junk painted by James Hanlon. Catch the charming and profuse little shrimps in the large abstract brush drawing by M. Takemoto.  You’ll only see them if you look closely. Otherwise they seem like blobs in a abstract composition.


These are just two, but there are quite a few that are witty, amusing, nicely executed and certainly worth a second look. Scroll down to see photos of these two.

Witty Is In

Speaking of witty, what do you get when you nail a wooden surfboard to a wooden coffin and put legs on it?

surf coffin table

This work of art covers all the bases, it's a surfboard, it's a table, it's a coffin, it's a metaphor. Susan Halas photo.

You get a “surfin’ coffin table” of course. That’s the title of one free standing work that takes its cues directly from the Dada school of visual jokes and put-ons. This one adds a nice regional twist. As with most things Dada it it’s vaguely (if not conventionally) useful. It’s also funny and definitely one of a kind. It ain’t cheap though, artist Bhodi Be has a $900 price tag on it. It definitely deserves a place here at home in some Maui collection.

Repeating Patterns Abound

Another reoccurring theme is repeating pattern.There are so many examples it’s hard to pick one or two. One that stands out a series of ceramic heads grouped together with variations in expression and heaped a natural form wooden base. This work by the team of Marylyn Holland and Sam Stephens clearly shows how certain shapes repeat themselves. Here they are done in clay, but you’ll see the repeat motif in oil, in batik, in watercolor, stamped, integrated into a border, or sometimes making a pattern within a pattern.

heads on a platter

Repeating motifs run through the show. Here a group of heads is displayed on a wooden platter. Susan Halas photo.

Other Centuries

While most of the work on view is in a contemporary vein, some is ultra realistic and takes a stylistic cue from an earlier century.

The painting Lei Maker by Semyon Bilmes is one of these.

19th century revisited

Not everything in the show is contemporary. This realistic painting by Semyon Bilmes is a throwback to the late 19th century right down to its gilded frame. Susan Halas photo.

He adopts the style of the late 19th century to show a romantic vision of a young Polynesian woman stringing flowers. He echoes an earlier century right down to the carved and gilded frame. This is a very accurate a 21st century reprise of a style that was popular long ago.

In all there’s a lot to see and much of it repays closer inspection. The show is on view at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center’s Schaefer Gallery Wednesday through Sunday.Hours are 11-5. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

It can also be seen on line at:


strong use of pattern

The inside of this turned and pieced wooden bowl by Scott Henry shows a bold and playful use of pattern. Susan Halas photo.

bold flat color regional theme

Another boldly patterned work by Ed Lane references the Hawaii landscape. Susan Halas photo.

witty shrimp

This large witty drawing by M Takemoto reveals many tiny shrimps on closer inspection. Susan Halas photo.

de chirico in the details

A little faux de Chirico is amusingly nestled in the details of this painting by James Hanlon. Susan Halas photo.



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