Adventures of Jurying the Honolulu Printmakers 87th Exhibition, Part 3

The 87th Annual Honolulu Printmakers exhibition opened last night at the Honolulu Museum of Art School to a packed house. The annual awards  included categories of excellence in lithography (Stanley M. Park), mono print (Kandi Everett), relief (Joseph Nam), as well as six other awards of excellence (Yoshimi Teh, Jeremy Bush, Nancy Vilhauer, Jared Wickware, Boz Schurr, Vincent Tully), a student award (David Keith Randall), and an Upbeat award (Kristen Rae Simonsen). Locals mingled and finger foods whizzed by on small plates—your typical exhibition back drop. But, what was truly unique about the night, no, about this group is the shear magnitude of enthusiasm for printmaking that is bound to this metropolitan city in the middle of the Pacific ocean. From the 220 submissions, we had the tough job of whittling it down to an end count of 105 pieces to form the exhibition. Some 200 artists and print enthusiasts attended the reception. Artists purchased one another's work and they scolded and congratulated us on our unorthodox hanging of the show. Over the couple of days of our stay, it became glaringly obvious that printmaking holds a unique grip on the multicultural population of America's 50th state. The unique conglomeration of native Hawaiian, Asian, and European art traditions collide and are rendered tactile in the works by members of the Honolulu Printmakers today. The organization was founded in 1928 by Huc-Mazelet Luquiens and Alice F. Poole. It's the second oldest group of its kind in the U.S. and the oldest arts organization in Hawai'i. While beginning as a heavily Western influenced organization, the group has morphed into a multifaceted melange that is unique to these islands. In choosing work for this 87th Annual Exhibit of the Honolulu Printmakers, we hope that our selections capture this distinctively Hawaiian flavor, one that is eclectic, confident, relevant and exploratory. Works run the gamut from the monolithic to the minute, the deeply colored to the monochromatic, and everything in between. Though unintentional, the exhibition showcases a large percentage of student work from The University of Hawaii at Manoa's strong printmaking program, at which Duncan Dempster, executive director of the Honolulu Printmakers, teaches. Apparently this is different from previous year's exhibits, but we can in good conscience say that we chose work from the gut, not by the labels. Whether by students or primed professionals, the range of work submitted spreads across a wide spectrum of formal approaches, one that easily bridges ideas between West and East, while incorporating the indigenous vernacular. This was apparent in how perspective was solved within composition, how technique was embedded into images, how abstraction flowed easily through the different disciplines, and how few works included appropriated imagery. Because this exhibition was hosted by the Honolulu Museum of Art School, an affiliate of the Honolulu Museum of Art, we had the rare opportunity to visit the Museum's prints and drawing collection thanks to Brady Evans, a member of Honolulu Printmakers, who works as the collections manager at the museum. Brady pulled out some amazing examples of Honolulu Printmakers "Gift Prints", a series started in 1933, and continuing today. The "Gift Print" is both a showcase for a single member and a fund raiser for the organization. It is unveiled each year at the annual exhibition (this year's Gift Print artist was Paul Weissman). At the museum, we had the pleasure of viewing a selection of these prints from artists John Melville Kelly, Sueko Matsueda Kimura, John Kjargaard, and John Chin Young. The museum collection houses over 10,000 pieces in their archive, so the "Gift Prints" were just the beginning. Brady also showed us prints by Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, James Whistler, and Richard Tuttle. Seeing the shear magnitude of the museums stored collection, which also includes a huge number of Japanese woodblock prints (several Hiroshige's were on view during our visit), we realized how strong the cultural bed for print is here in Hawai'i. With all these images floating around, the scale and strength of the printmaking community fresh on our minds, and the singular amalgamation of cultural influences so specific to this chain of islands, it hit us. If the zero point of the art canon can be reestablished and challenged, Honolulu artists have the rare opportunity to look inward and incubate how the future could unfold, and why it doesn't have to look like Asia 2.0 or Europe 2.0. After all, to pivot the dialogue, it only takes a critical threshold. This is the new new world. Stay tuned for our Honolulu extras...Bookmark / Share / Print
Categories: Exhibitions

5 Responses to “Adventures of Jurying the Honolulu Printmakers 87th Exhibition, Part 3”

  1. thank you for giving us a glimpse of the jurying process and end result all the way from Hawaii. I am interested in why did you decided to hang the work in a non-conventional manner?

  2. We had some pieces that really spoke to us, that propelled the idea. Moreover though, we wanted the work to speak to each other, and have viewers be challenged on their own expectation of viewing a print.

  3. dieter runge says:

    Thanks for coming and being Sonnenzimmer.

  4. Dieter! Your music is blasting out of our studio. Thank you again for a great time and having us in Honolulu!

  5. […] pieces are already taken. On the left “From Lincoln to Linekona” was exhibited at the Honolulu Printmakers 87th Annual Exhibition at Honolulu Museum of Art School and found a home in Oahu with Stanley Park. On the bottom here, “Sonnenzimmer im Bau 2″ […]