Sunday, February 4, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, February 4, 2001

Letters to the editor

Critic should try thinking creatively

People with the mentality of Bob Dye are exactly and precisely what keeps Hawaii from achieving its potential as a vital place to live and work.

Dye’s misinformed opinion (Focus, Jan. 28) suggests that the art project proposed for the second floor of the old Armed Services YMCA, recently purchased by the state, is "elitist and a hoity-toity notion," and that the Art in Public Places program is egalitarian. He further suggests that "old-timers said the notion has been kicking around for a long time."

Well, Dye sounds like an old-time journalist who is living in the past, with no vision or insight. People with "vision" have always been considered extremist by the narrow-minded who are intimidated by creative thinking. The Advertiser could use a few more journalists to replace the outmoded thinking of the lot of Dye. Creativity, which is stimulated by all the arts, is recognized by leading thinkers as crucial to the development of a fully educated person.

Dye is described as a Kailua-based historian and writer. Interesting that a "historian" could suggest that museums, which are recognized as extremely valuable educational assets throughout the rest of the world, would consider them elitist. But then, maybe Dye has never experienced the value of intellectual and emotional stimulation created through reflecting on artistic expression. Perhaps he should give it a try, if he is not too "stuck" in his thinking.

Ginger Andrasick

Arts and culture center hardly a new idea

Bob Dye’s commentary (Focus, Jan. 21. 2001) on the state’s purchase of the old YMCA building failed to include some very pertinent historical information provided to him by the staff of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

Foundation Curator Lisa Yoshihara told Mr. Dye that an arts and culture center at the old YMCA building is not a new idea that was conceived by the governor or first lady. She told him that in the 1960s a bipartisan effort recommended establishing an arts and culture center there.

Then-Gov. John Burns, a Democrat, and then-Mayor Neal Blaisdell, a Republican, put together a citizens’ advisory committee and the civic center policy committee in 1964 to create a master plan for the Honolulu Capitol District and Civic Center.

One of the guidelines in the committees’ first report in 1965 was that "a place should be provided for a museum of the varied ethnic traditions which characterize and enrich the Hawaiian culture."

In the final report in 1968, the committees proposed for the YMCA facility "the acquisition and use of the building for cultural and civic activities such as civic and professional clubs, educational programs, art galleries and studios.

More than 30 years later that community-inspired vision is finally being realized. It is an idea that has withstood the test of time. The state purchased this grand structure in downtown Honolulu for one-fourth its previous price.

Although Burns’ "museum without walls" concept was an innovative and democratic idea, it does have its limits, and there is a need for a permanent home for the arts of our people. For example, there are paintings, quilts and sculptures that in all practicality could never be displayed in an elementary school cafeteria or classroom.

There are also state offices with art where the public does not have free access. Two paintings by well-known local artist Macario Pascual hang on the walls of the governor’s private office. The only people who see these paintings are those who meet with the governor. The same is true of the art in the private offices of legislators, school principals and other state administrators.

Mr. Dye is mistaken when he calls the center simply a "state art gallery." The vision for it has always been much more, according to the 1968 master plan and the governor.

Gov. Cayetano has said this art and culture center will include art exhibitions, dance and music recitals and all types of arts education programs for the public.

To say that an art and culture center is for the cultural elite or for snobs is to ignore the society we are today. Appreciation for the arts transcends culture, class and socio-economic background because of such programs as Artist in the Schools and Art in Public Places.

Mr. Dye’s "commentary" contributes nothing meaningful to the public discourse and is instead a cheap shot taken at the governor and first lady. His closing words expose his hypocrisy in accusing the governor of elitism. His statement, "I still can’t believe this grand art gallery was Ben’s idea. It’s just too hoity-toity a notion for a local guy from lower Kalihi," is, in itself, the essence of elitism.

Kim Murakawa
Press secretary, Office of the Governor

Complaint itself suggests Wonderland’

G. Harris (Letters, Jan. 28) has it a bit backward. Jerry Burris (Focus, Jan. 21) hasn’t been to "Wonderland" in some time, but apparently Harris would like to go. All Burris was saying is for the GOP to not let their seven-seat victory go to their heads.

Harris, on the other hand, seems to want to be some place where economies are not turned around while keeping social commitments; where educational priorities are not kept and diligent efforts are not made for continuous educational improvement; where morally questionable charges of corruption are ignored and not proven false; and where G. Harris can whine and whine about traffic conditions and expect them to just go away without an effort.

Not me. I prefer the wonderland that is Hawaii.

Patrick Stanley

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