There's a checkers board, some stop signs and a mangled guard rail - normal, everyday stuff. So what's the big deal about the Schaefer International Gallery's latest pair of exhibits? For starters, you've never seen the items quite like this before.
"Everyone who's come in just walks through the doors and their eyes pop and their spirits are uplifted," raves gallery director Neida Bangerter.
The latest show is actually two exhibits in one. Taking over half the gallery is Maui artist Deybra Fair's "Fair Towers," while the other half is Kauai artist Wayne Zebzda's "Road Trip."
BOB BANGERTER photo
Maui artist Deybra Fair’s “Fair Towers”
Be prepared for a sensory overload with Fair's larger-than-life sculptures towering overhead and Zebzda's traffic paraphernalia splattered across the floor and walls.
Fair, whose colorful mural can be seen on the way to the MACC's Castle Theater, stepped outside her comfort zone for this latest project. The petite artist and self-described "pack rat" created sky-high towers, some as high as 15 feet, using found materials and items she's collected from yard sales.
"I've never made towers before in my life," admits Fair. "It was definitely a challenge and it felt like one big puzzle."
Her "Endangered Species" towers are sets of houses crafted from old board games and stacked one on top of the other. Besides its kid-like and whimsical qualities, the piece is also a throwback to the days when playing board games with the family was commonplace.
"The way it is now people just don't play these kinds of games anymore," says Fair. "I get a feeling of nostalgia and security every time I look at this piece."
Visitors are invited to get personal with the artist in an installation aptly titled "Deybra's Studio." The piece is a replica of the Fair's Upcountry studio and includes her actual desk and chair, walls filled with personal photos, letters and other knickknacks.
"This is really what it looks like," says Fair as she steps into her makeshift studio.
One major difference - "It's probably a lot cleaner than normal," she jokes.
With a story accompanying each item, the installation is like a book begging to be read. It tells the story of Fair's life, from her admiration of artist Frida Kahlo to her struggles with a crippling disease.
"When you're an artist you're in your own world," explains Fair. "This is like giving the public a chance to see how I think and how I?see it all."
A set of drawers with labels including "Crap," "Love," "Forgiveness" and "Hope" rests against one wall and visitors are encouraged to become part of the show by writing their thoughts on a piece of paper and dropping it in one of the boxes.
Like Fair, fellow mixed-media and found-objects artist Zebzda calls himself a "pack rat." But rather than rummaging through yard sales or collecting things from around the house, he finds his inspiration within the Department of Transportation wreckage.
With childlike amazement, Zebzda gawks at the roadside remains and plucks out the pieces he needs.
He describes his work as "highway art made by second-hand collaboration with the general public."
"People are inadvertently assisting me by smashing up railings or running over signs," Zebzda explains.
The result is a hodgepodge of roadside-inspired art including a piece titled "Stop Throwing Signs" that features stop signs seemingly thrown into the wall like a pack of ninja stars. Melted yellow highway road lines are rolled up to create "Laws of Attraction."
The clever titles can be just as entertaining as the pieces themselves. For Zebzda, naming the art is half the fun.
"It's one of my favorite things and it really adds to the work," he says.
But don't mistake these playful pieces and their accompanying one-liners as just a bunch of comical art. Beyond the wit and the chuckles are refreshing interpretations of commonplace things. Each piece could hold double, or even triple, meanings depending on the viewer.
"You might look at the rest of the world a little differently and you might give other parts of your life a second look," says Zebzda.
Fair and Zebzda's exhibits are sometimes lighthearted and at other times serious. Their messages are sometimes straightforward and at other times complex. One thing's for sure, the eye-popping pieces scream "look at me." And it's hard not to.
"We wanted something for summer that was uplifting and fun," explains Bangerter. "This show is uplifting, eerie, satirical, tongue-in-cheek all in one."
* Lehia Apana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.