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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 19, 2010

Check state attic for stuff to sell

By Lee Cataluna

For a minute there I was thinking I might finally get rid of that broken cement pagoda purchased from Mō'ili'ili Star Market garden shop 15 years ago and replace it with a nice statue from a state office building. Nothing big, like a life-size sculpture of somebody famous. Just a bust or a vase or something. Something that would look nice against the monstera leaves by the carport.

But the state isn't going to garage-sale its cache of art. It just sounds that way on the surface. Come to think of it, maybe that's just what they should do.

House Bill 2817 "allows for the disposition by public auction of works of art acquired by the state." Just that line conjures an image of Niecy Nash and her Clean House team going through state basements rolling their eyes at crazy tapestries and cobwebby concert posters, hauling out the extraneous stuff, putting tags on everything and making some sweet cash to fix up the schools. But the idea would be to take the proceeds and ... buy more art!

Here's what the bill says: "The purpose of this bill is to authorize the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to dispose of works of art owned by the state through a public auction. Proceeds from the sales would be deposited into the Works of Art Special Fund and used to acquire new works of art."

Niecy would be talking about mayhem and foolishness.

It would be sad if the state had to sell art to pay for schools, and guards at the psychiatric hospital, and coqui frog inspectors. But then again, it would be worse to hold onto pretty material things when all else is going to ruin.

Isn't that what grandma always said about her heirloom vase or her diamond brooch? "If anything ever should happen to the family, at least you can sell these and take care of the children."

Words to that effect. At least the grandmas I've met would have said that. They wouldn't have said, "For Pete's sake, sell the house, sell the cars, put the children to work in the factories but don't sell that painting that hangs over the divan!"

This is one of those measures that gets introduced for the heck of it and never goes anywhere. The effective date is currently set at January 2112, which kind of tells you that nobody is taking it seriously.

But maybe it should be taken seriously. The library sells books as fundraisers. Bishop Museum sells prints and texts. Maybe the state should let go of a few things from the attic.

Spring cleaning is good, and there are bills to pay.