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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, October 28, 2002

State Art Museum showcases Isle roots

We're delighted that Honolulu's downtown arts and cultural district is coming together — albeit incrementally — with the addition of the Hawai'i State Art Museum.

After all, Hawai'i was the first state in the nation to set aside one percent of the construction funds for each state building for art in public places.

And soon we will be able to see the full fruit of that 1967 law now that the 5,000-piece collection has put down roots in the Capitol District's Hemmeter Building.

The museum's inaugural exhibition, "Enriched by Diversity: The Art of Hawai'i," opens Nov. 3 in conjunction with an all-day downtown arts festival. It will feature 360 works by 284 local artists, including Isami Doi, Satoru Abe, Jean Charlot, Herb Kawainui Kane and Pegge Hopper.

Any world-class city, New York and San Francisco included, would be proud to showcase such a striking array of paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, prints and textiles and ceramic pieces with Asian, Pacific Island, classic and contemporary Western flairs. The new museum will also act as a catalyst to bring attention to the other museums and historic sites in the downtown area, including 'Iolani Palace, the Judiciary's museum and the emerging museum/historical center at Washington Place.

Of particular interest in the opening exhibit are works expressing Native Hawaiian perspectives, including a series of photographs tracing the construction of the H-3 Freeway, a project that spurred protests from Hawaiians and environmentalists.

All in all, Honolulu has needed a classy art venue that tells visitors and residents where we come from, where we're going and who we are.

And the Hawai'i State Art Museum has the potential to fill that niche.

We look forward to the sprouting of more galleries and performance venues in the cultural belt spanning from Kaka'ako to Chinatown. Hawai'i's artists are hungry for local exposure.