Wearable art show new feature of Maoli Arts Month
By Lesa Griffith
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Lesa Griffith
It was slated to be a two-day market, but it turned into a month-long event last year. Now Maoli Arts Month is back, and even bigger. A MAMo Awards exhibition, Native Hawaiian Arts Market and Keiki Art Day are back. Added to the lineup is a Wearable Art show, which includes a gala dinner.
"We fully surpassed our expectations last year," says kumu hula Vicky Holt Takamine, whose PA'I Foundation is one of the organizers of the event. With a federal grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, "we were able to leverage the (market idea) into a month-long event ... and this year we've expanded again," with the art show and celebration. "I looked at my calendar and I had an empty weekend," Holt Takamine says, "so I thought we might do a wearable art show."
She invited designers to share their creations, but "wearable art is also kakau — the tattoo — we want to look at that, and at kapa."
A highlight of the show will be a special bamboo-stamped pa'u, or skirt, inspired by a chant composed for Lili'uokalani. "(The chant) talks about the colors of her skirt and the bamboo print, and someone is printing a skirt, we are going to present that for the first time," Holt Takamine says.
"Integrating the things we wear for ceremonial and performance purposes, the tattoo that we wear ... you cannot really explain some of these things. I wanted an event that would showcase that, too."
The wearable art show includes dinner and on each table will be a centerpiece by an artist, who will be seated at the table.
With MAMo, "We're trying to create a venue where we celebrate Hawaiian art and artists, provide economic development for them," Holt Takamine says. "Today, our artists all have a second job. They're clerks, accountants, farmers — and do their art on the side.
"We want to create not just a venue but develop a clientele for them, where they can make their livelihood from art."
The PA'I Foundation is Holt Takamine's halau foundation. Besides providing infrastructure for MAMo, PA'I is the organizer for a Keiki Art Day on May 12 at the state art museum. "I just said I think a halau can do this," Takamine Holt says. "We partnered with the Hawai'i State Art Museum, and last year the kids had a great time."
This year's program will include Kalaupapa storyteller Makia Malo and the first-ever konani tournament.
Opening today is "Ku I Ka Ni'o 2: In Celebration of Native Hawaiian Master Artists" at Bishop Museum. The show honors Hawaiian master artists Sean K. L. Browne, Puanani Van Dorpe, Joseph Dowson, Sam Ka'ai, Leialoha Kanahele and JoAnne Kahanamoku Sterling. The artists attended an invitation-only ceremony last night.
"We have the Hoku Awards and the Merrie Monarch, but how were we acknowledging the visionary visual artists within our own Native Hawaiian community? We weren't," says Bishop Museum's Noelle Kahanu, who coordinated the event. "This annual exhibition and Maoli Arts Month Award is our community-based response to honoring those who have truly led the way.
"Each of these artists is phenomenal, in both perpetuating traditional arts and breaking new ground. They have fostered and inspired whole new generations of artists."
Reach Lesa Griffith at firstname.lastname@example.org.