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State of the Arts

Compared to New York’s world-famous institutions or Miami’s glittery Art Basel, Hawai‘i’s arts scene is admittedly smaller scale. But there’s hidden treasure on these shores, namely, a close-knit community of artists, aficionados and philanthropists who quietly (and tirelessly) work for art’s sake. Here, our look at the creative, generous forces who energize and inspire the islands.

Kelly Sueda

Moku o Keawe International Hula Festival

Theatre’s 2013-2014 season includes Celtic group Danú.

During Hawaii’s Modern Masters at Luxury Row, see works like Tonia Moreno’s “Emerge.”

Hawai‘i State Art Museum’s latest show includes this untitled seascape by painter Lionel Walden.

Dorothy “Honey Bun” Haynes

The only palace in the U.S., ‘Iolani Palace is kept open by its ardent circle of friends.

John Koga

Hawaii Opera Theatre’s The Mikado

Surfer Crystal Thornburg-Homcy and cinematographer Dave Homcy

Discover Bruna Stude’s talents at Galerie 103.

Show of the Season: Now See This
It’s time again for one of the poshest artistic events in Honolulu, Hawaii’s Modern Masters, which returns to Luxury Row in Waikiki for its spectacular eighth edition on Nov. 7. As in years past, expect an impressive array of artists from Cedar Street Galleries, whose works span a variety of styles and media. Modernists will want to head straight into Gucci to peruse Daniel Stratis’ sculptures in steel and Tonia Moreno’s delicate glasswork. More playful themes abound at Coach with Amber Aguirre’s rabbit ceramics and Esther Shimazu’s masks. In conjunction with this luxe exhibition, Luxury Row has made a contribution to Honolulu Museum of Art’s Art to Go outreach program. If you can’t make the plush opening, be sure to catch the show before it closes Dec. 1. 2100 Kalakaua Ave., Waikiki, 922.2246, luxuryrow.com

Art for All: Kaua‘i Cool
Photographer Bruna Stude was carried by her love for the sea from Croatia to New York and, finally, to Kaua‘i, where she made her home in 2002. Her cultural contribution is Galerie 103, located at the Shops at Kukui‘ula since 2009. The spot exudes an undeniable metropolitan cool. But Stude has adopted the principle of ‘ohana (family), turning her gallery into a cultural hub for the whole South Shore. Seasonal shows bring awareness to social and environmental issues. Add to this guest lectures, fashion shows, films and workshops—always for free. Amazingly, Stude is a one-woman show, save for her faithful canine assistant, Brolie. 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St., Po‘ipū, Kaua‘i, 742.0103, galerie103.‌com

Kelly Sueda: The Trustee Artist
Bolstering his already storied career as a painter and collector, Honolulu artist Kelly Sueda recently became a trustee of Honolulu Museum of Art. At age 40, Sueda has long been celebrated for his exquisitely detailed and poetic island landscapes (everything from Mauna Kea Beach to North Shore’s pineapple fields), rising in the art scene while just in his 20s. (Several of his works are part of the museum’s collection.) A longtime museum supporter, Sueda has organized the Museum Collector’s group and chaired events like last year’s Kama‘aina Christmas and this year’s ConTempo gala. Now as one of three new trustees tapped to steer the organization forward with fresh ideas, Sueda says it’s time to give back. One of his biggest goals is to expand arts education in Hawai‘i. As the father of two young children, he believes creative learning is essential for the next generation, and he hopes the museum can offer even more opportunities for arts exploration via its highly acclaimed school. He also has volunteered to help with the Museum Collectors program, where patrons pay dues to take part in private events, learn the intricacies of art collecting, meet dealers and tour local collections. The effort is one of the museum’s key fundraising programs. “I was attracted to becoming a trustee because I saw it as a great opportunity to do something for the community,” Sueda says. “It’s a real honor to be put in a role to help others. Hopefully, I can make contributions to make the museum grow and expand.”

John Koga: Independent Provocateur
John Koga is undeniably one of Hawai‘i’s leading contemporary artists. His sculptures and installations have established new paradigms in the art scene’s vernacular, smartly blending abstract forms with the tongue-in-cheek. (Just check out his series of works involving trees.) But Koga does more than let his work speak for itself. Culturally and creatively speaking, he is a breath of fresh air. Boldly outspoken and armed with infectious humor, Koga has become a rallying force for the arts in Hawai‘i, uniting creatives with the business community, from luxury labels to hoteliers. Such was the case with Wish You Were Here, a special exhibition at Chanel Boutique’s gallery that he organized with Allison Wong. Sponsored by Honolulu Museum of Art, the one-of-a-kind show brought together the works of island artists who have broken into the New York gallery scene, including Ashley Bickerton, Paul Pfeiffer, Garnett Puett and Lawrence Seward. It was also a keen opportunity to inspire local students to pursue art. And that’s just one of many things on Koga’s plate. His reputation for independent thinking recently led him to be tapped for Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra’s board. Understandably, every endeavor can’t be a knockout success, which is just fine for Koga. “I put a lot of energy into projects that aren’t always successful,” he says. “But I learn from those experiences and apply those lessons to the next one.” Of course, with all that he takes on, how does Koga manage it? “I can’t do anything without my family.”

Marine Mission: Surf's Up
The ocean can be a fickle mistress, but for Dave Homcy and Crystal Thornburg-Homcy it has served as the wellspring from which romance and art flows. The celebrated surf cinematographer and longtime surf ambassador for Patagonia “have been partners in a lot of beautiful little films,” including Sliding Liberia, where the two first met, to El Mar, Mi Alma. But this husband-wife team’s recent documentary, Beyond the Surface, which follows the inspiring odyssey of India’s first female surfer, Ishita Malaviya, marks their first foray into co-directing a movie together. “I thought we were definitely going to kill each other, but it’s only brought us closer,” Crystal laughs. If traveling the world filming waves isn’t idyllic enough, the two also run Crave Greens: an art studio and organic farm on O‘ahu’s North Shore. Most people are lucky if they find one dream job; the Homcys have found a multitude. beyondthesurfacefilm.com

Number Crunch: 43
The number of pieces in The Gertrude Mary Joan Damon Haig Collection: He Makana of Hawaiian Art, Paintings and Prints, which will be unveiled to the public on Dec. 6 at the Hawai’i State Art Museum. In one of the largest gifts ever made to the state’s Art in Public Places program, an anonymous donor has chosen to honor the late daughter of one of the islands’ most prominent families. Impressively, this collection spans over 100 years in Hawai‘i, from heirloom pieces from the kingdom period (like priceless feather capes and wood calabashes) to paintings by Lionel Walden. 250 S. Hotel St., Downtown Honolulu, 586.0900, hawaii.gov/sfca

Royal Grounds: In the House
Touted as the only royal palace in the country, ‘Iolani Palace holds a definite place of distinction. But how its hallowed halls have stayed open isn’t as well known, even to most locals. The former residence of Hawai‘i’s monarchs doesn’t receive any operating funds from the state but is actually managed by The Friends of Iolani Palace. Founded in 1966, the volunteer organization was instrumental in restoring the palace to its former glory after years of neglect. As of 1998, The Friends has operated the palace. The group has also fostered the welcome return of royal artifacts, from precious inisgnias to rare photographs. Culture buffs will want to attend the palace’s Holiday Evening Tours on Dec. 27 in honor of Queen Kapi‘olani’s birthday on New Year’s Eve. 364 S. King St., Downtown Honolulu, 522.0822, iolanipalace.com

Top Five: Less is more. Recently, we’ve found ourselves drawn to the simplicity of color, pattern and texture. Here, five abstract painters who have left us refreshed and inspired.
1. Debbie Young From water to fire, the elements come alive in her washes of blues and reds. cedarstreetgalleries.com

2. Mary Mitsuda Elegant is one word that describes Mitsuda’s serene, yet mesmerizing, creations. marymitsuda.com

3. Al Schwartz Schwartz applies acrylic paints to wood, creating intriguing textures.
alschwartzart.com

4. Akira Iha A Zen influence reigns supreme in this Maui artist’s utterly cool tableaux. paiacontemporarygallery.com

5. Tom Lieber The nationally recognized artist makes his canvases vibrate with his unabashedly bold strokes. tomlieberartist.com

Dance Stars: Hula Moves 
While most people know about the famous Merrie Monarch hula festival, Hawai‘i Island also hosts the Moku o Keawe International Hula Festival on the Kohala Coast, drawing in attendees from the mainland and Japan for workshops, competitions and receptions. Running Nov. 7-9, the festival is truly a labor of love, drawing support from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Big Island Candies and Sig Zane Designs. Hilton Waikoloa Village, 69-425 Waikoloa Beach Dr., Waikoloa Village, Hawai‘i Island, 345.9364, mokif.com

Best Comeback: Back in Business
Hawai‘i Island’s culturati heaved a collective sigh when Kahilu Theatre shut down last year amid mounting debts. But this arts nexus in the rolling hills of Waimea is back, financially healthy with a stellar lineup of performances for its 2013-2014 season, to boot. Now, just how did this beloved arts organization stage its dramatic turnaround? Thank the local community of arts lovers, whose outcries prompted the theatre’s feisty board of directors to raise more than $200,000. “The theatre is an extremely important part of the community, so people really stepped up to help out,” says President Mimi Kerley. To bring this season to life, the theater held a public meeting to draw a list of possible artists for the season. The acts that received sponsorship made the final calendar, including slack-key guitar master Cyril Pahinui and Celtic supergroup Danú. “I feel really optimistic about what we’ve done, and it’s just going to get bigger and bigger,” Kerley says. 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Waimea, Hawai‘i Island, 885.6868, kahilutheatre.org

Front Stage: On a High Note
When it comes to creating a viable performing arts organization in Hawai‘i, look no further than Hawaii Opera Theatre for a recipe for success. The secret? A smart combination of the recognition of donors and active participation from both its board and its base of volunteers. For its current 2013-2014 opera season, HOT debuted its new Platinum Circle Level of Donors, bringing prestige to donors who are willing to give that extra amount. One of the first to step up to the plate and join the circle was Capt. Jim McCoy, HOT’s board chairman. But money is not the only commodity that the arts needs. There’s also time and effort, two important resources that the HOT team has tapped into. Its powerhouse volunteers assist with everything from costumes to hospitality. One individual who has gone beyond the call of duty is board member Steve Prieto, who has spent countless hours helping to bring events to life, including one of the most waited events of the holiday social season, the Opera Ball. Taking place at the Sheraton Waikiki on Nov. 16, this gala took its East Meets West theme from this season’s performances of Turandot and The Mikado. 596.7372, hawaiiopera.org

Debut to Watch: Fab Collab
Sometimes, an art collector does much more than amass works. Case in point: local aficionado Dean Geleynse, who’s been collecting for over 20 years, has helped emerging artist Jared Yamanuha curate his debut show, on view at The Human Imagination in Chinatown through Nov. 30. Entitled Omiyage, the show takes its cue from the Japanese tradition of buying gifts during trips. In this instance, Yamanuha figuratively visits Hawai‘i through the designs of its most iconic brands, from Hawaiian Sun to Longs Drugs. He photographs every label and then intricately handcuts each one into delicate patterns. What ensues is play between the recognizable and the abstract. And this is just the start. Yamanuha will make his museum debut in Obsessive Reductive at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco in February 2014. 1154 Nu‘uanu Ave., Chinatown, 538.8898

Dorothy "Honey Bun" Hayes: Leading Lady
When it comes to the performing arts on the Valley Isle, look no further than Maui Arts & Cultural Center, which has played host to almost every highly produced cultural event for nearly two decades. Years before the center opened its doors in 1994, Dorothy Haynes—affectionately called “Honey Bun” by most—has been the steady force in making the community’s vision a flourishing reality. From the first fundraiser at a private home in 1985 to the deliciously elegant affair that is Maui Calls and every working committee in between, Haynes has risen to the task and cultivated generous support to build this stellar gathering space for the arts. Born and raised on O‘ahu, the Punahou graduate moved to Maui in 1967, where she eventually started a family with her husband, Jimmy Haynes, who currently chairs the center’s board of directors. But her astounding philanthropic outreach doesn’t stop at the MACC. Her aloha has extended to many island institutions and organizations, the Haleakala Waldorf School, Maui Food Bank, Kula Hospital Auxiliary, Maui Historical Society, Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center and many others. A bona fide trailblazer who is as remarkable as she is humble, Haynes readily deflects her accolades to the MACC’s dedicated volunteers. “We’d be nothing without the volunteers,” says Haynes. “They are our backbone.” With such display of grace, Haynes has rightfully earned her title as first lady of the MACC.