Art Lovers: You Won’t Want to Miss These Awesome Honolulu Biennial Events

Honolulu Biennial takes place Wednesday, March 8, through Monday, May 8.
Honolulu Bienniel graffiti nature
teamLab, Graffiti Nature.
Photos: Courtesy of Honolulu Biennial Foundation


If you love art, you’re going to be very happy for the next two months. Honolulu is going to be bursting at the seams with art beginning Wednesday, March 8, through Monday, May 8, as dozens of internationally renowned Pacific Rim artists fill the city’s museums, gardens and civic centers with paintings, prints, large-scale installations and artwork in a variety of media for the first-ever Honolulu Biennial. This artsy team has already converted the former Sports Authority on Ward Avenue into “The Hub” for the Honolulu Biennial, filled with massive works of contemporary art.


“I wish they had a biennial award for bravery,” Honolulu Biennial curator Ngahiraka Mason says with a laugh, referring to how many artists and events are packed into this inaugural exhibition. “By creating access to different ways of approaching, making, understanding and presenting art, [the Biennial] will be a very different experience for the public.”


Exploring the theme of “Middle of Now | Here,” the festival features Hawai‘i artists Andrew Binkley, Drew Broderick, Jane Chang Mi, Kaili Chun, Sean Connelly, Marques Hanalei Marzan, Charlton Kupa‘a Hee, Al Lagunero, Les Filter Feeders, Chris Ritson and Michelle L. Schwengel-Regala alongside others from countries throughout the Pacific. Works range from monumental literal pieces including Drew Broderick’s “Billboard I,” a neon and vinyl billboard responding to a historical George Carter painting that depicts the death of Captain Cook, to more abstract works such as Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan’s Crossing Project, Another Country, an installation of wooden boats, cardboard boxes and domestic household items in remembrance of Hawai‘i’s Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Filipino migrant laborers who worked in the sugar cane fields.


The artwork will be up for two months, and the Honolulu Biennial is hosting a series of events and artist talks that are too cool to miss. Here’s a sample to get you started; for more info on events, go to


Honolulu Biennial art
Sama Alshaibi, Wasl (Union).


Honolulu Biennial Opening Party, in collaboration with MORI by Art + Flea

Wednesday, March 8, 5 to 9 p.m.

It all begins here. Kick off the Honolulu Biennial with an opening celebration and blessing by Hālau Mele, introductions by curatorial director Fumio Nanjo and Mason, and a fashion show of new pieces created for the Biennial by Marques Hanalei Marzan. Located in The Hub, the opening party also includes a special commissioned performance by artist Al Lagunero, inspired by a “Letter to the Island” written by the Japanese monk Myoe in the 12th century.

Free, The Hub, 333 Ward Ave.


Honolulu Biennial Opening After-Party, in Collaboration with The Arts at Marks Garage

Wednesday, March 8, 9:30 p.m. to midnight

The official after-party for the opening for the Biennial is happening at The Arts at Marks Garage in downtown Honolulu, with an epic art installation by United Arab Emirates artist Mohammed Kazem, live music by funky fusion band Quadraphonix and DJ Annalog and live body painting by Chanel Tanaka. This event doubles as part of the debut of The Arts at Marks’ new interior layout and design, emphasizing a larger gallery and performance space.

$20, The Arts at Marks Garage, 1159 Nu‘uanu Ave.,


‘Awa Ceremony

Friday, March 10, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Share ‘awa/kava, the traditional Hawaiian beverage celebrated for its calming and therapeutic effects, with Hawaiian cultural practitioner Keala Kahuanui-Paleka and the storytellers of ‘Awa Koa, hosted by Nā Mea Hawai‘i. Learn proper ‘awa protocols and enjoy shared stories at this mindful and relaxing event.

Free, The Hub, 333 Ward Ave. Due to limited space, registration is required: email


Honolulu Biennial tearoom
Beatrice Glow, Rhunhattan Tearoom.


Floating Sculptures Keiki Workshop

Saturday, March 11, 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Inspired by the imaginative floating sculptures of South Korean installation artist Choi Jeong Hwa (who will be debuting a massive art piece made of plastic buoys and various found ocean debris at Honolulu Hale for the Biennial), children are invited to create their own works of art using recycled items in a special workshop at Ward Village. They’ll learn about physical structures and elements of organic design as they float their new artwork on water, just like Choi Jeong Hwa’s water-based breathing lotus flower art installations.

$10, IBM Building Courtyard, 1240 Ala Moana Blvd. Due to limited space, registration is required:


Honolulu Biennial: Hikoi

Saturday, March 11, 2 p.m.

Conceptualized by New Zealand choreographer and UH Mānoa Center for Pacific Island Studies assistant professor Moana Nepia in collaboration with choreographer and video artist Kara Miller and UH Mānoa theater and dance students, Hikoi is a series of choreographed vignettes responding to artwork throughout the Biennial. This site-specific performance explores ancestral and contemporary connections to Oceania, recognizing themes of migration, settlement, conflict and cultural renewal.

Free, The Hub, 333 Ward Ave. Due to limited space, registration is required: email


Biennial Talks: Jens Hoffmann on Biennial Making and Community

Saturday, April 15, 3 to 4 p.m.

Former deputy director of New York’s Jewish Museum Jens Hoffmann speaks about the process of organizing and hosting exhibitions and biennial art events. He is the founding editor of The Exhibitionist: Journal for Exhibition Making, a guide for art curators by art curators; is editor-at-large for Mousse Magazine and a contributing writer to Frieze and Artforum. In 2015, Hoffmann received the Association of American Museum Curators’ Award for Curatorial Excellence. Co-presented by Nella Media Group and The Arts at Marks Garage.

Suggested Donation $5, The Arts at Marks Garage, 1159 Nu‘uanu Ave. Due to limited space, registration is required: email


Kaili Chun Honolulu Biennial
Kaili Chun, Veritas II.


Artist and Curator Walk + Talk

Saturday, April 22, 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Meet noted Hawai‘i sculptors Kaili Chun and Charlton Kupa‘a Hee and hear about their inspiration in creating pieces installed at Bishop Museum for the Honolulu Biennial. Moderated by Mason, guests will also learn about Mason’s process in selecting the art pieces on display at the museum before going on a walking tour through the Hawaiian Hall Atrium, Picture Gallery and Native Garden to view the artists’ work.

Free, Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St. Due to limited space, registration is required: email


State of the Arts, a Conversation on Hawai‘i’s Art Scene

Sunday, April 23, 4 p.m.

Enjoy an in-depth analysis and discussion of Hawai‘i’s local art scene with panelists Jasper Wong, founder and lead director of Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i, the annual mural festival in Kaka‘ako; Josh Tengan, exhibition manager and project curator for Contact, the annual contemporary art exhibition at the Honolulu Museum of Art School exploring the concept of contact as it relates to Hawai‘i; and Katherine Ann Leilani Tuider, development director and co-founder of the Honolulu Biennial Foundation. The conversation will be moderated by Healoha Johnston, curator for the arts of Hawai‘i at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

Free, Honolulu Museum of Art Doris Duke Theatre, 900 S. Beretania St. Due to limited space, registration is required: email


Works in the 2017 Honolulu Biennial will be held in the following exhibition sites:

  • The Arts at Marks Garage

  • Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum

  • Foster Botanical Garden

  • Hawai‘i Prince Hotel

  • Honolulu Hale

  • The Honolulu Museum of Art

  • The Hub at Ward Village

  • The IBM Building at Ward Village

  • Shangri La, Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures


Docent-led public tours of The Hub at Ward Village are held weekly on Thursdays from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. and Saturdays from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m., monthly at Foster Botanical Garden on Saturdays from 11 to 11:45 a.m. on March 18, April 15 and May 6, and monthly at Honolulu Hale on Tuesdays from noon to 12:30 p.m. on March 28, April 11 and May 2. Tours are free and registration is not required.


Every Tuesday at The Hub from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., various artists, curators, cultural practitioners, academics and creatives will gather to discuss themes and concepts relating to the Honolulu Biennial. Dates include March 14, 21 and 28, April 4, 11, 18 and 25, and May 2. These art talks are free and open to the public but registration is required: