Now that Honolulu has two alternating, yet similar, museum exhibitions, is the art scene really going to be better?
By Andrew Rose
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“Change is evolution, and when we stop evolving we stop being relevant.”—the Academy's Michael Rooks
The Contemporary Museum Biennial of Hawaii ArtistsThe show opened March 29 and runs until Aug. 17, 2008, and features seven invited artists from Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii. Eli Baxter, Vincent Goudreau, Meidor Hu, Javier Martinez, Cade Roster, Yida Wang and Wayne Zebzda used recycled inner tubes, paintings, photographs, video, found objects and mixed-media sculptures to express fresh ideas from contemporary visual culture. Inger Tully, TCM’s new curator of exhibitions, says the museum “wanted to provoke dialog and discussion about materials, processes and topics. I’ve thought a lot about the visitor’s experience and it was important to me for the visitor to have an experience that would make them think.” The Contemporary Museum, 2411 Makiki Heights Dr., 526-1322 www.tcmhi.org.
Artists of Hawaii 2009Will be curated by Laura Hoptman of the New Museum, New York. May 7 to July 5, 2009. Submission deadlines, other information and outreach programs will be announced in August at www.honoluluacademy.org. Honolulu Academy of Arts, 900 S. Beretania St., 532-8700.
“Biennial” has always featured a limited number of artists and been an invitation-only affair. Artists are tracked discreetly for years before they are surprised with an opportunity to create work for a space at the museum. This year, only seven hand-picked artists are showing their work.
The scale of TCM’s biennial is even more rarified and intimate than the Academy’s intended one. The effect, therefore, of TCM’s exhibition on artists, the art market, and the audience is laser-like in its focus and power. Jensen established that the art shown at TCM’s biennial would always be developed in a dialog with the artists and the curators. Their conversations stretch from before the actual installation until after the exhibition via the distinguished catalog with essays by eminent authors that Jensen intends “as a document” of the process and a makes a “contribution to Hawaii” and its art community.
Wayne Zebzda's "Laws of Attraction."
Now that we have two shows working with the idea that discerning biennials of local contemporary art can be a curatorial—and business—success, a string of questions remains: Does Hawaii still need a large-scale annual show for artists? If so, who will run it and where? What is going to happen to all the artists and artwork that doesn’t have a place to be shown?
Andrew Rose is an artist who lives in Honolulu. He is an instructor of art at Linekona and had work selected for “Artists of Hawaii 2007.”