Start Your Own Hawai‘i Art Collection at a Rare Sale of Local Pieces

This benefit for the Friends of the Hawai‘i State Art Museum promises unique treasures at reasonable prices.
Hawaii art sale
Photo: Erin Paris


A special sale of rarely available Hawai‘i art happens May 4 and 5 to benefit the Friends of the Hawai‘i State Art Museum’s mission to spread the word about Honolulu’s lesser-known art museum.


Prominent artists with pieces for sale include Jean Charlot, John Young, Satoru Abe, Tadashi Sato, Madge Tennent, Reuben Tam and Toshiko Takaezu, all Hawai‘i artists whose work is valued in fine art museums and collections globally.


The idea for the sale came from the board of the organization when members learned that some collectors were willing to part with some of their private pieces to inspire continued interest in the visual arts, says board president Joyce Okano.


She explains that some collectors and legacy families have run out of wall and storage space and this provided an opportunity.


“Everybody should come. It’s free [admission], first of all,” Okano says and it is an opportunity to see these museum-quality works before they disappear into someone else’s private collection.


“We have about 50 works priced under $200,” specifically to entice new collectors.


Hawaii art sale
“While Wait We Weave” by Adella Islas , one of the pieces priced under $200.
Photos: Kenna Reed


Appraisers set the prices at a level that is a very good value but is not disrespectful of the artists, she added.


She adds people often confuse the museum with the Honolulu Museum of Art, which advertises and markets much more than the Hawai‘i State Art Museum. “People think they’re one and the same,” she says.


When the board members started talking about the idea of a sale, they realized that some collectors—including artists Satoru Abe, Greg Northrup and the estate of Jay Jensen, longtime curator at what’s now the Honolulu Museum of Art—were making available art that had been hidden away for decades. “Jensen’s estate has given us some 43 pieces, all of his local works,” Okano says. Soon, the initial idea of selling 90 paintings doubled to 180 pieces including sculpture and photography. She says prices range from $50 to more than $6,000 including a piece that already sold for $16,000.


Hawaii art sale


Okano worked at Chanel for 31 years and helped transform the third floor of the Waikīkī store to showcase local art in partnership with what was then known as the Contemporary Art Museum. When she retired in 2015, she promptly joined the museum’s board. “I love art,” she says.


Collector Stuart Ing, who is also a board member, works as senior store director for Tiffany & Co., and he’s excited about the opportunity for budding collectors to find pieces they’ll love.


“Art just sings to me,” Ing says. He has 50 pieces in his office at Tiffany. “I like a whole range, abstract to impressionism, to realism and sculpture and acrylics and watercolors.


Ing and other board members plan to help new collectors find art that speaks to them. “We will just walk around the gallery and try to find out what people like,” he says. “We can kind of guide them to what resonates with them.


“Art shouldn’t be scary. Art should be fun.”


The Hawai‘i Master Artists Show will be May 4, 5:30 to 9 p.m. and May 5, 10 a.m. to noon at Artizen by MW Gallery in the Hawai‘i State Art Museum. Featured artists include Satoru Abe, Bumpei Akaji, Jean Charlot, Helen Omara Islas, Keichi Kimura, John Koga, Mary Mitsuda, Louis Pohl, Tadashi Sato, Lawrence Seward, Boyd Sugiki, Reuben Tam, Madge Tennent, Lonny Tomono, Harry Tsuchidana, Glenn Yamanoha and John Young.


A private preview event for members of Friends of HiSAM will be May 3. Click here to become a member.