Learn About Public Art Sculptures Around O‘ahu with Free Virtual Tours
We sat down with Brian Linares of Exhibition Grid to talk about his collaboration with Hawai‘i State Art Museum.
Brian Linares is like a walking encyclopedia of contemporary art history in Hawai‘i. Filled to the brim with art insight and a desire to share it, Linares is the founder, curator and tour guide of Exhibition Grid. Before the pandemic, he would take groups of art enthusiasts on walking tours through Downtown Honolulu, where a substantial amount of public art can be found. “Exhibition Grid is a work-study compass and hopeful interdisciplinary adventure tour in finding or informing on contemporary and modern art throughout Hawai‘i,” Linares says. He partnered with 88 Blocks earlier this year with sold-out walking tours for Hawai‘i Triennial’s opening weekend. Following the popular tours, Hawai‘i State Art Museum reached out to Exhibition Grid to produce 10 exclusive Instagram Reels that highlight public sculptures in the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ Art in Public Places collection around O‘ahu.
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The virtual tour format allows Linares to reach a wider audience and to connect people with the artwork in a different way. This digital collaboration with HiSAM launched this week and will continue through November. You can go to the @hawaiistateartmuseum on Instagram and tap the bell icon on the top right to get notifications for new posts, including new Reels each week. Be on the lookout for in-person art tours with Exhibition Grid starting up before the end of the year.
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HONOLULU Magazine: Where does your passion come from for sharing art with others?
Brian Linares: Memories of riding early into town for school from Kailua to head to the Makiki/Tantalus hills and eventually locating artwork in libraries, schools, airports and parks. It is a shared experience, but I noticed that most people overlook or behave differently with the work. A testament to being a little bit nīele, which, according to e-hawaii.com, translates to nosey, inquisitive and curious. Notice the random object: It answers you with context and connection, or find the creator’s name or the artwork title. You already live with this object on the way to your regular route, and you might as well stop and find out more.
HM: What is your philosophy about public art?
BL: Live with the art to understand who we are as complicated humans. Look at all the artwork like you would the people of Hawai‘i, with aloha. Everyone has a story, and everyone has different ideals.
HM: How did this collaboration with Exhibition Grid and HiSAM come together?
BL: While working in various art galleries and one experimental contemporary art hall, I always wanted to see a survey-type tour of the art in public space. I shared this with the Art in Public Places team a bit ago. Their fantastic community collaborator, Aly Ishikuni (director of Mori, Bās Bookshop and Art + Flea), knew what it was that I had an interest in producing. Thankfully, creative digital media rescued the notion into a commissioned assignment. A terrible way to thank the pandemic lockdown digital reliance we had to face.
HM: You are very knowledgeable about public art here in Honolulu and local art history. Where did you learn all of this information?
BL: I ask the collectors of these artists, because most of the artists also have artwork in public spaces. A library card is the most effective service for learning about these works. Also, looking into sites and publishings by sfca.hawaii.gov, Laura Ruby (writer, educator and artist), and many other map producers of artwork in public in Honolulu.
HM: What are your top three favorite pieces of public art and why? And will they all be included in the virtual tours?
BL: Such a cruel question (total sarcastic voice), but honestly, I haven’t made up my mind, especially since I haven’t experienced all of them in person. But so far, artwork by Thomas Woodruff titled “Carolina” on the front lawn of Maui High School; all of the members of the Metcalf Chateau; anything Solomon Enos, Isamu Noguchi, John Koga, Laura Ruby. See, now you make me feel like an art snob. Please, next question, haha.
HM: What would you like for people to take away from your virtual tours?
BL: Get out there, look at the works, share space with them, and read about their shape and purpose. Let it test you and allow you to feel good after a rough day. See what you recognize from a past moment or feeling you felt the most alive. Now that we have smartphones and tablets, it becomes more accessible for them to walk/ride/run/drive up to.
HM: Anything else you’d like to add?
BL: I love the scatter-shot method of getting to see the art here in Hawai‘i. I hope you all do, too.
For more information about art tours with Exhibition Grid, follow @exhibition_grid or go to exhibitiongrid.com. For more information about the Art in Public Places program, go to sfca.hawaii.gov/art-in-public-places-program. Follow @hawaiistateartmuseum on Instagram.
Lisa Shiroma is a correspondent for HiSAM and is an artist and art educator. Lisa 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 from 2017 to June 2020.