March 8, 2017
HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I—The four artists whose work is in this year’s Artists of Hawai‘i exhibition were pleasantly surprised when they found that their inclusion in the show came with a substantial check.
At the opening reception in February, the artists received these awards:
Kasey Lindley: $6,700
Kaori Ukaji: $6,000
Kaili Chun and Hongtao Zhou: $8,000 each
For years the museum has offered endowed Artists of Hawai‘i recognition awards for modest amounts. The awards are made possible with special funds honoring Jean Charlot, Geraldine Clark, Roselle Davenport, Cynthia Eyre, Alfred Preis, Reuben Tam, Jim Winters, John Young and Violette Wong Hu.
Since the exhibition went from being an annual to biannual event following Artists of Hawai‘i 2007, and from about 60 artists to fewer than 10, the award endowments have grown, and the museum saw that by consolidating the nine awards it could have a real impact on artists’ lives. While the amount of future awards will vary depending on fluctuations in the market, and the number of artists included, the museum’s goal is to offer each selected artist an award of at least $5,000.
“It is not easy to be an artist in Hawai‘i,” says Healoha Johnston, curator of the arts of Hawai‘i and curator of Artists of Hawai‘i 2017. “Since 2009, the museum has been reshaping Artists of Hawai‘i to better serve our arts community, first by giving more time for artists to create significant work, then, most recently, by offering real one-on-one curatorial time and more exhibition space. Now we take another step by helping artists financially. For too long artists here have been expected to be grateful for acknowledgment. We want to be sure they know we understand how costly it can be to make art.”
The museum’s original 1922 charter includes “encouragement of artists”—a duty it continues to uphold. “We hope that this increase in Artist of Hawai‘i awards makes a difference in artists’ lives—whether by allowing them to purchase expensive materials or to pay rent to give them breathing space to create art,” says museum director Sean O'Harrow.
Artists of Hawai‘i becomes a triennial
All four Artists of Hawai‘i 2017 participants said their work would have benefited from having more time. In its ongoing effort to be responsive to artists’ needs, the museum will next hold the exhibition in 2020, making it a triennial event.
“We want the exhibition to continue to be relevant and meaningful to our community,” says Johnston. “The purpose of the Artists of Hawai'i exhibition is to offer island artists a platform for strong, provocative visual statements. Large gallery space where artists can present a body of work, sufficient lead time for artists to invest in developing and resolving their ideas, and the financial support to help underwrite that process is a major commitment on behalf of the museum to Hawai'i-based artists. The lead-time and large gallery space are considerations the museum extends to international contemporary artists. Local artists who are selected for the show will now be given equal exhibition parameters plus a monetary award in hopes that we’ll continue to see stellar artwork coming from our community.”
One of the world’s premier art museums, the Honolulu Museum of Art presents international caliber special exhibitions and features a collection that includes Hokusai, van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso and Warhol, as well as traditional Asian and Hawaiian art.
Located in two of Honolulu’s most beautiful buildings, visitors enjoy two cafés, gardens, and films and concerts at the theater. The museum is dedicated to bringing together great art and people to create a more harmonious, adaptable, and enjoyable society in Hawai’i.
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