A Pop-Up Gallery in Kailua Shows How Hawai‘i Artists React to a Global Pandemic
Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i’s Kamea Hadar supported Treehouse Coworking on an exhibition devoted to exploring the creative side of COVID-19.
When the pandemic shut down much of our state, the owners of Treehouse Coworking in Kailua saw an opportunity to both support local artists and provide a community space to reflect on the different ways people find themselves dealing with life now.
The coworking business got support from artist Kamea Hadar (@kameahadar) who’s also a board member there, to create a pop-up art gallery that showcases local artists and their interpretations of Coping with COVID. And the artwork reflects the many moods and emotions of the pandemic, from dark, angry and angsty through anxiety and ambiguity to vibrant celebrations of life and natural beauty.
Find whimsical skeletons, landscapes, flowers and pieces named “Anxiety” and “Anger” in Phoebe Hwang’s ongoing series of digital illustrations on canvas titled Nood Gut, which offers further proof that noodles provide a wonderful metaphor for life.
And if we think we’ve talked and obsessed about COVID-19 way too much this year, the exhibition reminds that art can transport us to places we want to or should go. Visitors can go to the gallery in-person weekdays or online anytime. The artwork is for sale for as little as $5 for greeting cards, $10 for prints of idyllic flowers. Nathaniel Evans’ dramatic piece “What Devils Fear” draws inspiration from masks and the shape of the virus and costs $2,500. There’s a mermaid surfboard, a hand-carved wooden skateboard, some quirky stoneware, watercolors and much more among the 60 pieces on exhibit.
Photographs, paintings and pottery all offer views of our pandemic-shaken life. Visitors will find established artists that include waterman and artist Mark Cunningham and painter David Friedman as well as first-time exhibitors. Friedman’s acrylic of a stop sign below COVID-19 Street is just one of the works that makes you pause and ponder.
Before the pandemic, Treehouse had begun expanding to another Kailua space nearby, renovating a former day spa with plans to sublease some of the space. With retail stalled, the temporary art gallery became a way to reach out to local artists, says Keno Knieriem, Treehouse co-founder.
“We used to host monthly art galleries at Treehouse Kailua that showcase local artists, but with the shift of COVID this community event has been on pause,” says Knieriem. “Not only are we extremely interested in the art that is being created during these times, but a lot of artists are struggling, especially financially.”
The Treehouse staff usually opens the space from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays with masks and physical distancing in place. Volunteers and artists have sometimes added weekend/evening hours, says Treehouse staffer Kelsey Loenhorst.
Loenhorst says Treehouse is continuing to expand the coworking business, planning to open a new space near Kāhala Mall in January 2021. The COVID-19 exhibition is set to continue through Nov. 24, but it could extend or move online. As with most things pandemic, plans may change.