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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Windward artists need new show site

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

KAILUA — Construction problems at Windward Community College have forced the Windward Artists Guild to scramble for a new location for its June show. If a site isn't found soon, the show may have to be canceled, organizers say.

Prospects for the June event are not looking good, said Tomi Kabara, guild co-vice president in charge of finding a new location. With spaces booked two and three years in advance, the organization is running out of options.

"I'm very disillusioned because it seems we'll have to cancel our June show altogether," Kabara said.

The group needs to confirm a location by mid-March to publicize the event and prepare for it.

The guild has contacted Windward malls, grocery stores, business offices, parks and the local Y's. Kabara said she has visited Kualoa Ranch and Sea Life Park.

"I tried the Windward Mall but the liability insurance and rent was too much for a small organization to take on," she said.

There are dozens of art shows each year islandwide, but not many are held in Windward O'ahu.

The show includes artists from all islands and is juried, meaning a distinguished judge selects the best and awards are given.

Organizers say its cancellation would hurt artists who depend on it for exposure and would waste months of planning. But the guild said the situation also points out a larger problem: A permanent home is needed to maximize public exposure to art and to encourage artists.

"There should be some cultural place on the Windward side for the historical society, the chamber of commerce, where we can see an art exhibit or a children's exhibit," Kabara said. "I think Windward is ready."

The show was scheduled for the new art gallery at the community college, but problems with the floor have delayed art exhibitions there since November, said gallery director Toni Martin, who also teaches art classes at the school. The school is waiting for the contractor to fix the floor.

"I'm just as discouraged as they are," Martin said, adding that she has had to cancel shows as well and is using its old gallery to meet school obligations to show work.

The guild, with 107 artists, has been around for 43 years and once sponsored one of the largest art festivals on the island. The nonprofit group holds a yearly exhibit at Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden in September and a spring show, said guild president Nikki Johnston.

Next year, the show will be at Pauahi Towers and the following year at the Linekona Center.

The spring show was moved to June to take advantage of the college gallery, which was free and available when school is out. It was to be an open, juried show for all island artists. Now if the show goes on at all, it will be for members only.

The frustration of losing that site has guild members wanting a permanent location in Windward so they can exhibit year-round, Johnston said. Empty retail space or a home would be ideal, she said.

"We have enough artists so that we can always show, providing we have a space that needs us and wants art to be there," she said. "We can do many wonderful things. We just need a space to work with."

To offer suggestions, call Kabara at 261-2481.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com or 234-5266.