HONOLULU Magazine + Honolulu Museum of Art = Great Partnership

Introduction from the Editor

Through our partnership with the Honolulu Museum of Art, HONOLULU Magazine today unveils a new monthly blog written by Lesa Griffith, the museum’s communications director and a talented Hawaii writer on arts, culture and food. I’m especially happy to announce this partnership with the museum broadly as it’s a natural fit for our readers who are interested in arts, music, culture, film, so many things that the museum does so well.

And I’m happy to be teaming up again with Lesa, who also writes for our magazine when her schedule permits and is a friend and former colleague from our shared background in daily newspaper journalism. Lesa will provide a glimpse into the latest at the museum, highlighting events of interest to our readers. We know that we have readers who already are museum members and we look forward to making the acquaintance of more folks from the museum membership as we proudly introduce our readers to more news of the museum.

I got the chance to go to the preview of the Art Deco In Hawaii opening and found it a wonderful exhibition filled with familiar and exotic images. Some are museum favorites, some are familiar from a childhood voyage I took on Matson’s Monterey ocean liner and others tell fascinating tales of the age that created them. 

—Robbie Dingeman, HONOLULU Magazine Editor 


Honolulu Museum of Art's New Exhibit: Art Deco 

By Lesa Griffith
Henry B. Christian (American, 1883–1953) Cover design for Paradise of the Pacific, 1929, Watercolor, Collection Michael and Linda Horikawa Henry B. Christian (American, 1883–1953) Cover design for Paradise of the Pacific, 1929, Watercolor, Collection Michael and Linda Horikawa
Henry B. Christian (American, 1883–1953) Cover design for Paradise of the Pacific, 1929, Watercolor, Collection Michael and Linda Horikawa
Courtesy: Honolulu Museum of Art


The exhibition Art Deco Hawaii opened to the public on July 3, and within four days, more than 1,000 people had flocked to the Honolulu Museum of Art to see the show —that’s not including the 600 people who attended the members’ opening reception on July 2. honolulumuseum.org

HONOLULU Magazine readers may be particularly interested to spot the paintings—like the watercolor by Henry B. Christian pictured above—that were used for historic covers of Paradise of the Pacific, the predecessor of the current HONOLULU Magazine. This roundup of artwork created from the 1920s to 1940s includes many artists, such as Arman Manookian, whose work was featured regularly in Paradise of the Pacific. (HONOLULU Magazine offers prints of 14 of its past vintage covers.) shop.honolulumagazine.com

Local visitors are finding all kinds of connections to the artwork, whether it’s recognizing a Paradise of the Pacific cover or remembering a childhood trip on the Lurline.

Much of Art Deco–influenced artwork produced in Hawaii reflects popular percep­tions and promotional strategies associated with the islands that had been developing since shortly after the region’s annexation as a U.S. Territory in 1898. With territorial status came the need to estab­lish Hawaii as a destination open to even the most exacting traveler. In 1902, in an effort to attract visi­tors, inform potential residents, and generally lay the groundwork for Hawaii’s emergence as a modern economy, a group of civic boosters formed the Hawaii Promotion Committee, which created the monthly magazine Paradise of the Pacific. The Hawaii Promotion Committee used this new publication to map out a strategy to lure Mainlanders to island shores.

By the 1920s, Paradise of the Pacific, was a lavishly illustrated, glossy publica­tion that informed visitors and residents about local culture, told colorful anecdotes about Hawaii, and offered advice on home décor and proper attire in the islands. It also employed numerous artists, including the illustrator Henry B. Christian, whose picture of chiefs preparing for battle was reproduced on the magazine’s cover in 1929.

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.