It's not every day that the artist can span the spectrum of density and delight. But Maui's Jaisy Hanlon and Oahu's Eli Baxter have accomplished the feat: Their solo exhibitions at the Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao are not only aesthetically stunning, each piece provides deep discussions in time, space, consumerism, greed, nature, science, environment and more.
The Solo Exhibition 2010 features Hanlon's "Factual Fiction: Imagined Landscapes, Hybrids, and Other Curiosities," a collection of actualized environments comprising mixed-media sculpture, drawing and painting; and Baxter's "in the still between," a site-specific installation that sparks dialogue with space and the relationship between inside and outside. The show is on display through Nov. 12 during gallery hours.
"Solo Exhibition 2010 is a vibrant study in creativity, whimsical, intriguing and visually stimulating," says Marcy Lynn, exhibitions coordinator at the Hui.
Jaisy Hanlon’s “Autonomous Nightlife,” enamel, phosphorescent paint, oil, copper
The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo
The show is the only one in the state that allows the artist creative control from start to finish: from deriving the concept to physically staging the installation. And the opportunity is something that Hanlon and Baxter both took seriously, as each put careful consideration into not only their pieces, but the way in which they are displayed.
"I think the context in which you look at the artwork is really important . . . because it can transform your whole experience," Hanlon said.
Hanlon, who has a background in fine art and scientific illustration and metalsmithing, transformed the Hui gallery space into a whimsical, dreamlike environment of nature's oddities and awesomeness. Explore a fusion of hybrid images where glow-in-the-dark metal birds are caught in midflight; a scientific-looking stage of beakers, plants and pod-housed creatures are huddled together on platforms; and a banzai tree is hovering from the ceiling, its roots cascading below, with a neon light illuminating from beneath.
The 2010 Solo Exhibition transforms the Hui gallery, 2841 Baldwin Ave., and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday. For details, 572-6560 or www.huinoeau.com.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Jaisy Hanlon decorativepurposesonly.com
Eli Baxter elibaxter.moonfruit.com
"Factual Fiction was inspired by the idea of mediated environments, utilizing elements both real and fabricated to create scenes depicting hybridized plants, animals and insects," according to Hanlon.
The Olinda resident said that she is fascinated with the transitions of the natural history museums in the 1900s. During the'20s and '30s, museums changed their exhibition approach to create more of an experience, Hanlon said.
"It's not just like, 'Oh, there's an armadillo in a case,'" she said. "They wanted to give people the idea of experiencing nature instead of having to go there. It's a broad topic, but it really links to art history."
Her inspiration for the current show is rooted in the museum exhibitions, as well as in her general love for nature and science that she traces to a childhood of gardening with her dad in Idaho.
She said that she hopes visitors experience the environment created with the exhibition and possibly walk away with an appreciation for their own natural surroundings.
"Appreciate the surroundings that we do have because they are so incredible," she said. "I'm not trying to say in any way that (the exhibition) is as awesome as the natural surroundings, but hopefully it reminds people that things are changing . . . like with the ideas of hybrids. If you start to think about it, it's scary."
"I think the bottom line is that I hope people have an experience in it and not just with it," Hanlon added.
Similarly, Baxter, an accomplished Oahu-based artist who is known for her sculptural work, launched an intense study of space and environment, which is easy to conclude from viewing her "in the still between."
Her work manipulates recycled bicycle inner tubes in intricate detail to create a presence pouring through the Hui gallery room and daring viewers to determine different entry points and challenge the surrounding space.
Baxter's pieces are site-specific when possible, and the Hui exhibit is no exception. The space was thoroughly considered as Baxter crafted her ideas for the exhibition, she said.
"I liked the intense amount of light that comes poring in and the old doors, molding, windows," Baxter said via e-mail. "So I wanted to work with that and around that and create one work that took over wall and floor, jutting out into the middle of the room, forcing the viewer to have to move around and find multiple entry points (viewpoints) into the work itself. I also wanted the windows to remain open so that there is the possibility for interaction with the surrounding landscape.
Baxter said her work probes the fusion between "organic and the industrial, the natural and the manmade, as a way to investigate and questions humans' ongoing, changing, relationship with nature and the overall surroundings."
"This is also one of the reasons I focus on the use of recycled materials, which then questions the ideas of consumerism and the overlap of obsession, desire and need," she said.
So embark on an exploration of the new Hui environment. Whether it results in sheer enjoyment or hours of conversation, the pieces are just as detailed as the discussions are deep.
* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.