In the next three weeks, roughly 75 new art galleries will open across the island. The visual art boom can't be attributed to increased construction or venues setting up shop; rather, a host of more than 100 local artists and artisans will show their work - right in the comfort of their own homes, studios and other exhibition spaces.
Not your typical art galleries? That's the best part, says Carolyn Quan, the creator of Maui Open Studios, the first event of its kind in the state of Hawaii. In redefining what gallery means, MOS will allow an open door, quite literally, between the artist and the viewer, a way to bridge the gap for many who don't show in traditional gallery spaces or others who do but want a chance to meet face-to-face with art enthusiasts.
"From a personal and heart point of view, I really see the struggle every day with artists trying to get exposure in shows and trying to get into the public's eye," says Quan, who owned and operated an art gallery on Maui and one on Oahu. "There is so much talent on Maui. It was always frustrating to see the talent not go anywhere because of the lack of opportunity."
Kula glass artist Mike Worcester is no stranger to the heat.
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Quan
Modeled after Mainland open studio events, some of which feature more than 700 artists, the inaugural MOS will span three weekends, starting this week, to offer free, casual, self-guided tours with more than 100 artists and artisans in glass, painting, digital art, basket weaving, photography, jewelry design, sculpture, mixed media, ceramics, stone carving, printmaking and more. A digital and hardcopy guidebook offers previews, contact information and maps for each participating artist, whose locations are separated into three groups: West and South Maui (including Lanai); North, Central and Upcountry Maui; and Hana and East Maui.
"The idea is that you've got an opportunity for the artists to be able to express themselves and show their work in their own environment," says Bryant Neal, owner of Gallery Oceanica in Lahaina, the 2011 MOS official art gallery sponsor. "I think it is crucial for artists to be able to explain and express their work . . . so many times stuff is in the gallery and you're dependent on the consultant . . . You don't have the opportunity for the one-on-one. This is a wonderful contribution for people to be able to see and connect with the art."
Artists paid between $29 and $149 to be a part of the event, according to Quan. All the backing from MOS sponsors goes to the opening celebration, and the artist entry funds help curb the high costs of producing the guidebook, a glossy directory that Quan calls "golden" for both artist and art lover.
MOS will kick off with an opening celebration and preview exhibition from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at Maui Tropical Plantation. The event includes a cash bar, live music, a preview of featured work and a hardcopy of the guidebook, so visitors and residents can plan to see artists of interest.
Curious how Cudra Clover paints on silk? Check it out at her place in Haiku. Wondering about Brad Hucks' mixed media collage on wooden panels? Take some time in Kihei to learn about his approach. Want to know more about glass artist Dennis Chamberlain's warm glass techniques? Just drive over to his house in Kula and ask him.
"This is a chance to meet a lot of really good artists on the island, to see what they do, to meet them in person, to see how they create, what they create, and it will only happen once a year," says Chamberlain, the president of Maui Glass Artists Association who will open his home during Weekend 2 to show his pieces, along with the work of friends, plein air painter Kathleen MacDonald and ceramic artist Kevin Omuro.
"It will be a way for people who don't show in galleries to get some exposure," he added. "From an artist's perspective, it's an ideal opportunity."
That opportunity is what Quan, a photo collage artist, witnessed firsthand after making the move from Hawaii to San Francisco almost two years ago. By the time she heard about an open studios event there, it was too late to sign up.
"I had a chance to walk down the hall and visit different artists," she says. "It was so inspiring and so new to me, the idea of the public walking in the artist's home. It intrigued me. Hawaii doesn't have anything like it."
Quan knows the challenges and triumphs of isle artists, having lived seven years on Maui, where she ran her Lahaina co-op gallery, and two years on Oahu, where she operated a gallery in Waikiki. She said that Maui's unique art community, coupled with the type of art buyer, makes it the perfect place for open studios to thrive.
"What really makes it stand out is that people make it a point to come to Maui," she says. "It's an art destination, and I don't think Oahu is necessarily the same."
Quan envisions the growth of MOS each year, and hopes to expand the event to other islands. She says her goal is for all islands to be connected with the show, with artists from Maui showing on Oahu, Oahu showing on Kauai, and "everyone moving around."
After all, art is not a "luxury item" - it's essential, Quan echoes.
"To the general person, I would like to say art is necessary," she says. "It's part of making our lives beautiful and feeling good about being alive, that sort of emotional health and wealth that we need in our lives."
* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MAUI OPEN STUDIOS
MEET | More than 100 Maui County artists and artisans
PLAN | Self-guided tours through their homes, studios and other exhibition spaces
WHERE | West and South Maui (and Lanai); North, Central and Upcountry Maui; Hana and East Maui
TIMEFRAME | First three weeks in February
YOU PAY | Nothing
CHECK OUT | www.mauiopenstudios.com
CONTACT | email@example.com; (415) 450-1307
FRIDAY | Opening celebration and preview exhibition: 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Maui Tropical Plantation, 1670 Honoapiilani Highway, Waikapu. Includes pupu, no-host bar and entertainment by harpist Tatyana Shaprio-Leiste, musicians/vocalists Kahu, Mika Villaren, and Kahu and Friends, with jazz musician Robbie Ray.
SATURDAY AND FEB. 6 | West and South Maui (and Lanai) studios open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
SATURDAY TO FEB. 28 | Gallery Oceanic exhibition from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at 780 Front St., Lahaina.
FEB. 12 TO 13 | North, Central and Upcountry Maui studios open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center demonstrations, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2841 Baldwin Ave., Makawao. Demonstrations include: Ceramics, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; jewelry, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and printmaking, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
FEB. 19 TO 20 | Hana and East Maui studios open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
FEB. 27 | "It Takes More Talent: 20 Ways to Boost Your Career as a Fine Artist": Workshop by Carolyn Quan from 1 to 5:30 p.m. at the Hui; $75 for registered MOS artists; $125 for nonregistered artists. Register at www.liveyourdreams.us.com/mentor/workshops.html.