“Creatures & Characters” Exhibition Open at Hawai‘i State Art Museum

See the new exhibition featuring narrative works collected for keiki art enrichment and education.


Gotcha Gotcha Fish

“Gotcha-Gotcha Fish” by Virginia Jacobs. Photo: Courtesy of Hawai‘i State Art Museum


Visitors of all ages will be delighted by “Creatures & Characters,” featuring highlights of narrative works from the Art in Public Places (APP) Collection of the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA). Curated jointly by Elizabeth Baxter (SFCA Art in Public Places Program Curator), Shirley Lam (SFCA Hawaiʻi State Art Museum Education Coordinator) and Loke Simon (SFCA Art Bento Museum Guide), this exhibition serves as inspiration for HiSAM’s Art Bento education program.


“I picked the theme of ‘Creatures & Characters’ because the teaching artists like to use narrative artwork, or at least art that suggests a story,” Baxter explains. “I knew there would be a lot of interesting and fun art pieces available to select from the APP Collection with this theme in mind.”


For the 2023–2024 school year, the museum will welcome 10 Hawai‘i public and charter schools with 92 classes (about 2,000 students) in grades 2–6 for inquiry-based guided tours. Through the Art Bento program, students also experience enrichment in the classroom with hands-on activities led by teaching artists, as well as “using artworks to practice observation, critical thinking and communication skills along with exploring their creativity.”


Baxter says, “While there is a focus on SFCA education programs, the exhibition is ultimately for all ages with a large variety of engaging art in diverse media and stylistic approaches.”


SEE ALSO: Hawai‘i State Art Museum Invites You to Face “Fear of the Unknown”


The playful giant carp “Gotcha-Gotcha Fish” by Virginia Jacobs was quilted together with Hawaiian print fabric after returning from a tour of Japan.


Old Fish

“Old Fish” by Esther Shimazu. Photo: Courtesy of Hawai‘i State Art Museum


Take a closer look inside the mouth of Esther Shimazu’s “Old Fish” to make an unexpected discovery.


Cabinet Of Curiosities

The glass display case is like a cabinet of curiosities full of whimsical personalities. Photo: Courtesy of Hawai‘i State Art Museum


A total of 44 artworks are on display by 39 artists: Kathleen Adair Brown, Jean Charlot, Martin Charlot, Justin Davies, Kimberly De Souza, Solomon Enos, Richard Frooman, Karen Gally, Phillip Garrett, Juli Haas, Todd Herzberg, Susan Hogan, Claude Horan, Katya Hutchinson, Virginia Jacobs, Phil Jung, Wayne Levin, Lisa Louise Adams, Rodrigo Manzano, Jackie Mild Lau, Elizabeth Miller, Shigeru Miyamoto, Marcia Morse, Brandon Ng, Ray Nitta, Diego Rivera, Debra Rosenbaum, Fred Roster, Johannette Rowley, Mamoru Sato, Esther Shimazu, Sidney T. K. Yee, Randall Takaki, John Tanji Koga, Ella Tokunaga, Ivan Treskow, Ernest Trova, Shannon Webb and Suzanne Wolfe.


Phyllis Dobson

“Phyllis Dobson” by Diego Rivera. Photo: Courtesy of Hawai‘i State Art Museum


Be sure to catch these noteworthy works gifted to the state’s AAP Collection: “Mexican Mother and Child” by Jean Charlot and “Phyllis Dobson” by Diego Rivera.


For more information on the Art Bento program, visit sfca.hawaii.gov.


“Creatures & Characters,” on view through summer 2024, free admission, Mon–Sat 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Hawai‘i State Art Museum, 250 S. Hotel St. hisam.hawaii.gov, @hawaiistateartmuseum



The Hawai‘i State Art Museum is the venue for the upcoming 40th annual Hale ‘Aina Celebration on Sept. 9. Tickets are on sale online.


Lisa Shiroma


Lisa Shiroma is a correspondent for HiSAM and an artist and art educator. She is the former owner of the HiSAM Museum Gallery Shop, which she ran with partners Aly Ishikuni-Sasaki and Travis Sasaki from Mori by Art + Flea.