Native artists at the Bishop Museum

22 05 2011

The enjoyment for today consisted of going to the Bishop Museum to show my oil paintings alongside other Native Hawaiian artists at the art mart that is part of the MAMo (Maoli Arts Month) Festival in Hawaii. It happens every May.

The Museum booked DH, who is a volunteer docent, to guide a group from a philosopher’s conference on a 1-1/2 hour tour of Hawaiian Hall, making it doubly worthwhile for the two of us.

Ten minutes before show time, we arrived to find our spot next to my artist friend Momi Greene who came from Hawaii island with her decorated ipu (native gourd containers).

Me and my friend Momi Greene. Momi grows a native Hawaiian gourd and decorates them with carving and natural dyes she makes herself in the style that was done traditionally on the island of Niihau.

Years of art fence and craft fair experience paid off as we arrived ten minutes before show time, i.e. late. I saw some dark clouds as we drove over the mountain, and yes, we set up in the rain.

The paintings were fine; oil doesn’t like water. I just shake and blot them dry. DH staked the easels into the ground, and I attached extra ties, a good thing because gusty trade winds blew down from the valley throughout the day.

My brother-in-law Jon, in town from Oregon, came by to meet Momi in person because until today they had only been Facebook friends.

DH and Jon with the Bishop Museum's main building in the background

I loved the continuous live Hawaiian entertainment all day long.

Hula dancers wear long yellow plumeria lei

DH and I made some purchases:

I bought—with cash from trading my no-longer-wanted gold and silver items—some things from other artists, including a nifty re-designed T-shirt. I always try to buy from other artists where I am selling. The designer, using scissors, cuts away parts of the original garment, slits holes in the knit, weaves in contrasting colors or ties the fabric in creative ways to make a one-of-a-kind top that is truly styling and all the rage at the Native Hawaiian art mart. I plan to post a photo of me modeling it soon!

Yesterday in a gust of wind one of Momi’s ipu broke. It looked like it could be glued, but she said she’ll stitch it back together, making the stitching part of the design and giving the ipu new life and a story. When I relayed that to DH, he immediately told Momi of our plans to take a trip to her island and that he wanted to buy the ipu after she stitched it. That piece would be really special and would she kapu (reserve) it for him, we’d pick it up next month.

She said, “Okay, do you want to see it first?” DH can be impulsive at times, but he’s a good buyer and appreciates fine Native Hawaiian-made artwork.

What I realized and appreciated the most at the end of the day was how much the art by Native Hawaiians has improved, including the marketing of it. If you are in Honolulu next May, please plan on attending some of the activities of Maoli Arts Month.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

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