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9 Days of Free Art Programs at the Spalding House

The Honolulu Museum of Art will have an upcoming art program that starts on June 19.


Editor’s Note: Through our partnership with the Honolulu Museum of Art, HONOLULU Magazine publishes a monthly blog written by Lesa Griffith, the museum’s communications director and a talented Hawai‘i writer on arts, culture and food.


There can be an invisible wall between people—your average joe—and art. There’s the van Gogh, or, to bring it closer to home, the Kapulani Landgraf, on the wall, and there’s you looking at it. What went into making the work? How did it come to be hanging on that wall? What is the artist like? And why do I like (or why am I supposed to like) this artwork?


The Honolulu Museum of Art wants to tear that wall down with the upcoming Contempo #ArtShop —a nine-day art happening at its Spalding House location in Makiki Heights that starts June 19. In addition, Spalding House admission is free the entire month.


SEE ALSO: The Honolulu Museum of Art Wants You to Fall in Love With Art Again


Contempo #ArtShop takes place at Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House in Makiki Heights.


Spalding House director Aaron Padilla has mapped out daily programs that take a little of the mystery (but not the magic!) out of art. Through artist demos, people can see how wood is turned, clay is shaped and glass is blown. Curators and collectors will reveal the ins and outs of buying, caring for, displaying art. And the event starts with an Art + Design Day, when architects, interior designers, developers and realtors can book private tours with clients to find that special, one-of-a-kind piece they’ve been looking for to complete a project.


“The program is meant to put the work into context, to humanize it. Great art isn’t made of rare matter, and artists are not supreme beings that possess supernatural powers,” says Padilla. “It’s all about real people mastering a skill, taking risks and being fearless. I think there is immense value in that and is worth supporting.”


Ready to throw out that faded Klimt poster and buy actual art? Contempo #ArtShop may be a good place to start. The programs revolve around a massive exhibition of more than 400 works.


Internationally known artist Jane Hammond’s print Korean Vase with Pitcher Plant, Hala & Tiger Lily, and local manga artist Brady Evans’ pen-and-ink drawing Bend in the Road.


The exhibition art ranges from beautiful botanical prints by Jane Hammond (her work is in MoMA’s collection) to manga drawings by museum collections manager Brady Evans—and they are for sale. So you can learn how to collect, and then make your first foray into collecting, or add to your already growing art stash, no matter what your taste or budget. (The Hammonds go for $12,400, while one of Evans’ drawings costs $150.) You can get a preview of the show in the Art Guide posted at honolulumuseum.org/artshop.


GR2 Gallery artist Yoskay Yamamoto’s On Our Way Home (detail).


The exhibition includes a section of artists represented by Giant Robot, the popular magazine-turned-shop-and-gallery all about Asian and Asian-American pop culture founded by Eric Nakamura in Los Angeles. GR2 Gallery artists Luke Chueh and Rob Sato are coming with Nakamura for a Giant Robot Day at #ArtShop, where visitors can see them drawing and painting live. These social-media-savvy artists—including Yoskay Yamamoto and Martin Hsu—have been offering sneak peeks of their work on Twitter and Instagram for the past few weeks.


Nakamura, who has been to Hawai‘i many times including as a judge for HIFF, says he accepted Wong’s invitation to participate in #ArtShop because “Hawai‘i has a strange connection to the life of an Asian American. Growing up on the Mainland, we’re subject to many things that don’t happen there—or at least those are the stories we always hear. The people, the food, and the lifestyles are familiar—yet it’s still a chain of islands in the Pacific. Being able to connect with people there through art is an opportunity to bring what I hope will be something similarly familiar to Hawai‘i.”


Prefer to make your own art? On Sunday, June 21, #ArtShop presents the Art Supply Swap Meet from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature 10 booths of artists, craftspeople and makers selling, buying and bartering supplies, materials and equipment.


See the full #ArtShop schedule online at honolulumuseum.org/artshop.


Lesa Griffith is director of communications at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Born in Honolulu, one of her early seminal art experiences was at the Honolulu Museum of Art, when on a field trip her high school art history teacher pointed out that the ermine cape in Whistler’s Portrait of Lady Meux was not just a cape—it was visual signage leading viewers’ eyes through the painting.


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