Round Up of Intriguing Art in Honolulu

Jul 24, 2019

The Downtown Art Center has just opened in the City's Chinatown Gateway Plaza, the big pink building at Nu‘uanu and Hotel. Looking forward to a lot more action there when the new Satellite City Hall moves in. Meanwhile, First Hawaiian Bank Center has a new show up, and look what's on the walls at Pig and the Lady!

Hawai'i Handweavers Hui exhibition in the Downtown Art Center. Free live music every Tuesday, noon to 1pm. Bring your lunch.
Credit Noe Tanigawa / Hawai'i Public Radio

Spurred by threats from HUD, the City is moving to activate spaces in the long vacant Chinatown Gateway Plaza.  July first was the scheduled  date for the Satellite City Hall below Fort Street to move into the Plaza's first floor.  Meanwhile, the Downtown Art Center is open, weekdays from 11 until 3pm, currently showing the popular Hawai‘i Handweavers Hui. 

Hadley Nunes. Allies III (Landscape, Object/Place, Flora) acrylic on canvas, 54 x 42 in, 2019. From her show. "Into the Fourth," at the Honolulu Museum of Art First Hawaiian Center through December 20, 2019.
Credit Hadley Nunes

Tuesdays, from noon to 1, bring a lunch and enjoy live music in the gallery. One day it was Shoji Ledward playing his style of easy jazz.  Artists representing the Hawai‘i Handweavers’ Hui are showing until July 26th, 2019. Ghislain Chock, Kathy Tosh, Liz Train, Suzanne Marinelli, Sydney Lynch, and Helen Rau are showing a variety of hand woven arts. Watercolors by professionals in other fields are coming up in the gallery for August.

The Honolulu Museum of Art at First Hawaiian Center is sporting a new slate of artists.

On the main floor, “Into the Fourth: Hadley Nunes,” a collection of recent work on themes of history, nature and the body.  What’s fun is, these works talk to you in different visual languages. We're all so good at reading lines into representational images, for example. How about just allowing shimmers and merging lines to elicit a feeling? Reference points, like a hand or bird, add dimensions too, and you put it all together as you’re looking.

Maile Yawata. Man with a Cramp. Ceramic. In the Sculptural Ceramics show by Hawai'i Potters Guild members at the Honolulu Museum, First Hawaiian Bank Center.
Credit Noe Tanigawa / Hawai'i Public Radio

On the second floor, Sculptural Ceramics by Hawai‛i Potters’ Guild member artists Jisoo Kang Boggs, Kimberly De Souza, Rae Douglass, Ashley Huang, Harinani Orme, Johannette Rowley, Esther Shimazu, and Maile Yawata. 

Maile Yawata’s Man With a Cramp resembles a large dead bird. It’s actually a person with a prominent head, and a wily side eye. Yawata is doing work you don’t forget. Jisoo Kang Boggs is showing white modular models of coral-like forms.

Purely sculptural is a different angle for Hawai‘i Potters Guild, the brave co-op under the freeway behind Church of the Crossroads. The Potters Guild is one of the shoulders behind the annual Empty Bowl Project. Thousands of bowls, ono fresh soups, it's a perfect Hawai‘i thing: everybody pitch in and chow down to support the hungry. Potters are very practical---and this show proves, they’re imaginative as well.

Along the corridor gallery on the second floor at FHBC, Artificial Realities.  Photographs of zoo enclosures by Phil Jung and scenes from Waikīkī and Downtown by James Knudsen.

First Hawaiian Bank Center is at the corner of Bishop/King.  The galleries are open during regular Bank hours and parking is validated.  Drive down into the parking lot off Queen street, and get your ticket stamped by one of the tellers.

Lauren Trangmar. Cannabis Strain: Skywalker Kush. Mixed media. Part of a commission for Aloha Green Apothecary, on view now at the Pig and the Lady and fishcake, at South Shore Market.
Credit Noe Tanigawa / Hawai'i Public Radio

Lauren Trangmar is having a moment in Honolulu.  She’s in the Honolulu Museum's 21st Century Women show, she’s got Local Favorites showing at Ars Café on Monserrat, and when you go in the Pig and the Lady downtown, you’ll see a selection of 42 botanical drawings she’s doing as product labels/artwork for Aloha Green Apothecary, a cannabis dispensary. 

Trangmar says she had zero experience with cannabis when she received the commission. She realized, however, her sort of scientific illustration style that seems to be imparting factual information, could be quite appropriate for the subject matter.

Trangmar uses super thin black ink pens, watercolor, some digital work, colored pencil, some printmaking, a variety of approaches in any given piece. She says she’s a total research nerd, and spent four months researching cannabis scientifically and botanically, its uses, traditions, following fascinating rabbit holes, before even starting to draw. Fun! 

So, for example, there’s the Cannabis and Glaucoma drawing, like from Grey’s Anatomy, it’s a colored cross section of an eyeball, tracing some real and imagined effects in tight line drawing.  With some rather handsome leafy areas.  Trangmar just takes off on the names of many cannabis strains --- like Skywalker Kush or maybe Smooth Aloha Blue Skittles.  Illustrate that!

Satoru Abe. Carved and stained wood.
Credit Noe Tanigawa / Hawai'i Public Radio

When they want to distinguish themselves, more and more businesses are turning to artists. Aloha Green dispensary has Trangmar’s originals.  If you can get in. Reproductions are on view at Fishcake in South Shore Market, or for this month at Pig and the Lady.

Guess what? There’s an Art reason to go to Waikīkī. Satoru Abe, 72 Years of Creativity, is opening at Luxury Row July 24, 2019, 5pm. 

Abe, 93, will be there daily from 1-3 pm, and he’s bringing his workbench from his studio. I know why--he doesn’t want to waste his time just sitting there. He’s that kind of guy.

Imagine Honolulu when Satoru was growing up, he says there was nothing going on.  He went to high school, grad McKinley, he says his eyes were half closed.  He just got a job like all the other local guys, packing bottles and containers for Dairyman’s milk company.

Melissa Chimera. From her exhibition, Migrant, on view at the Honolulu Museum of Art through September 8, 2019.
Credit Noe Tanigawa / Hawai'i Public Radio

”I worked there for two years, and just before that, I woke up, my eyes opened. I saw the light. The light said, Are you gong do this the rest of your life? I said, No way!

"So all my friends, the coworkers, I told ‘em, I quit, I’m going mainland, going be an artist. That’s all it is.  That’s the biggest thing. To start everything."

"(My parents) didn’t support me.  I told them, No worry, I’ll send you money! I thought the street was, all you have to do is walk and there’s money.  That’s the beauty. The beauty is to be young, naïve and have a dream.  That’s all,  that’s all you need."

You gotta have a dream but you also have to be smart, and Satoru is on it. Satoru Abe, at Luxury Row,

1-3pm daily with his workbench. Don’t let the tourists have all the fun!!

The show runs Noon to 9 daily, complimentary valet parking until August 15, 2019.

At the Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawai‘i Island artist, Melissa Chimera’s show, Migrant, is in the Artists of Hawai‘i Gallery above Doris Duke Theatre. With references to her heritage from the Philippines and Lebanon, Chimera shows collaged photos, painting, and text, with pyrography. A striking gown made from singed fabric evokes feelings of heritage, loss, and danger, all relevant to contemporary migrant experiences.

Jeanne Friscia. Untitled Heirlooms, 1997-2000. In the 21st Century Woomen exhibition at the Honolulu Museum through Decmber 14, 2019.
Credit Noe Tanigawa / Hawai'i Public Radio

21st Century Women is the title of a show in the gallery near the Doris Duke Theatre. Local and national artists are represented here, notably Jean Friscia. Her Untitled Heirlooms involve vintage kerchiefs embroidered with hair.

Also on view near the entrance, Glow, selections from the Museum’s modern and contemporary collection. Enjoy Tony Oursler’s  2012 Roman à Clef. It’s a tiny circus.  A mechanical sculpture about the size of a breadfruit with rocks and natural features amidst which tiny projections of people sing, play, talk, muse.

Looking ahead, Yvonne Cheng, Pegge Hopper, and Mayumi Oda, will be showing together at Cedar Street Gallery, opening August 9, 2019.