Yesterday I took a turn sitting at the Kauai Society of Artists annual show. It is held at the KSAA gallery space which is the old JC Penny store site at Kukui Grove Shopping Center in world-famous Lihue, Kauai. You get a couple of time slots during the course of the exhibition, show up, smile at people when they come in, remind the youngsters not to touch the artwork, (especially after just visiting Coldstones) and make sure no one walks out with a brazen art heist right out of “White Collar”.
During my three-hour stint, I got some pages turned on what is shaping up to be a good escapist science fiction novel. I was also treated to a wide range of visitors. About fifty adults and ten kids came through the show. All kinds of shapes, sizes, social strata, shades of color and levels of interest. Some folks took quite a long time to rest with each piece in the show. Some came in and did a quick lap as if combining their cultural requirement with their daily exercise routine. Couples or singles pushed their strollers, attention split up between what was on the wall and who was in the stroller. Married tourists made dutiful stops together as if the respective works of art had been scheduled into their vacation itinerary. Boyfriends impressed girlfriends with their artistic knowledge. Girlfriends exasperated boyfriends by not taking them seriously. One guy sat down and told me how much his wife loved to do art but just hadn’t done it in years as she winsomely floated around the show with a sad smile. A very wise man stopped his family from coming in with him and told them he’d catch up with them later. He took his sweet time, relishing every minute of it.
180 pieces were entered into the show. 50 were selected by Neida Bangarter, a respected gallerist and juror from Mauai. It was a good quality show, varied with different styles and expressions. She also curated the show well. She began the show with abstracts, the artwork becoming more finite as you continued along. And she ended the show with the most representational style of work. There were four awards of merit handed out and the State of Hawaii bought five pieces for their collection that is rotated for exhibition in public places. Ahh, the artistic ego. I felt very gratified when informed that my ” Salt Pond Country Store” made the cut and would be included in the show. But alas, I was not amongst the elite who had garnered an award or been bought by the State. So of course I left an utter failure after opening night, doomed to return to endless weed whacking. Or as an old friend once humorously said about a particular situation that he had royally messed up– “Hampered by the inability to create, I must destroy”. Well- it was’t that bad , but ego is a pain in the ass on a good day and I confess to temporarily buying into a level of non inspiration for future work.
However, I was richly rewarded yesterday. From a vantage point at the front door and from behind my cheesy sci-fi novel, I got a pretty good view of most people’s reactions to the artwork. For the most part, people enjoyed looking at everything in the show, others went back to a piece several times or spent longer in front of one versus another. I must say, I believe I was strongly in the running for most popular piece with the locals. You know, the locals- the kind who enjoys a good lunch at L&L and doesn’t own a pair of leather shoes. Those who enjoy strolling in the mall with their girlfriend or boyfriend on their afternoon off. Those who have a fishing rod in the back of the truck for after work. Those who have beer to celebrate something or just have a beer to have a beer. This series of images I’ve been working on the last two years are about Kauai. They are a threads that weave together a glimpse of the everyday Island. Some thing or place you see but don’t see because it’s too ordinary, so you miss out on a good story or an incredibly lighted moment. The paintings aren’t in your face emotional,they are more like dry humor. But even though they aren’t dramatic, I do want them to be engaging, to tell a story, to make someone want to take in the light. Honestly, I also wanted to paint something everyone on the island can relate to and take pleasure in (visitors and locals alike) while satisfying my own creativity.
So I felt validated yesterday to see a number of the locals really enjoy Salt Pond. They stopped and smiled while looking at it, pointing at various details. Inevitably they would get closer to see something better. Some waited for their partners to catch up and look at it together (hey, maybe they knew the lady going in the front door or the guy who owned the truck?). One gal went out and got her boyfriend and brother to come look at it. Cool, very cool. Mission accomplished. Thanks everyone. Onto the next painting.
Thanks for taking some LIP from me,