It’s Your Art: HiSAM Visitors from the HHHRC

Posted on Aug 30, 2018 in Art in Public Places Collection, Blog Post, Email Newsletter, Hawaii State Art Museum, It's Your Art

Recent visitors to the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum included a group of participants from the Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center (HHHRC), a local non-profit agency providing services to the HIV, Hepatitis C, substance use, LGBQ, transgender, Native Hawaiian, and homeless population on Oahu, and Cullen Koshimizu, a Patient Navigator with HHHRC. They have kindly shared with us some information about their visit and what they experienced in the museum galleries. Museum Director Karen Ewald says “the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum is a space where people are welcome to experience contemporary art in Hawaiʻi in a variety of ways. It’s a venue for community engagement and connectivity on top of being an extraordinary contemporary art museum on the island of Oʻahu. HiSAM welcomes visitors of all backgrounds to view, socialize and interact in our galleries.”

Cullen Koshimizu: “In July of 2018, Life Foundation and The CHOW Project merged and became the Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center. We believe in the Harm Reduction Model and value lived experience and positive change.

I am a Patient Navigator working with participants who struggle with engagement and retention in care. Whether it is due to socio-economic barriers or stigma, my job is to ensure that our participants can live a “normal” life free from judgement and shame.

During my time at Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center, I have worked with individuals who live with a disabling conditioning while also dealing with mental health issues. While most of them do seek medical and behavioral health services, visiting the museum was another way to engage our participants outside of an office setting. This allows for them to be more social and not so isolated in the community.

Our participants enjoyed being able to see the artwork, most especially the work of one of our participants’ deceased partner. This was a moving moment for this participant who, like many, suffer from depression and isolation.”

A view of the "HAWAII: Change & Continuity" exhibit at the Hawaii State Art Museum

Artworks in the photo, left to right: “Kakawahie (Paroremyza flammea)” / H. Douglas Pratt / watercolor / 1976; “Forest Lei” / Claudia Johnson / strawberry guava wood / 2011; “Whorl Stump” / David Kuraoka / ceramic / 2012; “Roots” / Crystal Jean Baranyk / scratchboard / 2010; “Mauna” / Russell Wee / raku / 2009; and “Limpet” / Virginia King / wood sculpture / 1997. All Art in Public Places Collection of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

“Recently my case manager from HHHRC invited me to go with him and a few others to the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum in Honolulu, across the street from the State Capitol and ‘Iolani Palace. I was very happy, because I love to explore creations of art. My mobility issues were not a problem, and the building was refreshingly cool, allowing me to take my time and fully enjoy all that was offered. I found the museum layout is friendly and inviting, leading me through rooms of beautiful local art, presented in creative ways that made me smile.  I cannot say that one piece of art is my favorite. Every piece that I saw was attractive and impressed me greatly.  I remember standing at length in front of so many pieces, just looking at them, admiring every aspect of the art. There is nothing ordinary about this art museum.  The art exhibited that I witnessed was dynamic, challenging, and inviting. Having a disability, I was pleased to see benches throughout the museum, and elevators to bring me to more rooms of beautiful art. This is a museum that I will visit many more times, and I invite you to, also. It is so convenient to reach, with bus stops right in front.”
– HL

View of the "HAWAII: Change & Continuity" exhibit at the Hawaii State Art Museum

Artworks in the photo, left to right: “Portrait of Edith Kanakaʻole” / Willson Stamper / oil painting / 1980; “Uila (Lightning)” / Robert Flint / ceramic with metal coatings / 2012; “Self Portrait No. 3” / Leonardo / silver gelatin print and oil print / 1997. All Art in Public Places Collection of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

“This was my first time at the museum. I don’t really see myself as a museum person, but I was amazed at the art. There were many pieces by Hawaiian and local artists on display. My favorite piece of art was the very first painting I saw. It was striking and I could see different parts of the painting the longer I looked at it.  The docent was able to share with us the back story of the painting.  I have been coming to support groups in the community for about 8 years. I have been an advocate for having different options for groups, based on people’s specific needs. Many people have shame, and need a safe space to talk about their experiences with others who can relate. I am proud that I have helped start groups that are still meeting after several years. I am excited to be starting some new groups at the Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center.”
– Paul

Painting of a human figure wrestling with an eel. Both the human and the eel are behind a waterfall. Two rainbows arch over the right side of the painting.

“Rainbow Falls” / John Paul Thomas / oil on linen painting / 1976. Art in Public Places Collection of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

“One day when Cullen was over for a visit, I was talking about the “Boy with Goldfish” collaboration of which I was a part. I made mention of the No. 7 Rainbow Falls oil painting [by John Paul Thomas] hanging in the exhibition and Cullen proposed we go to see the painting with a few friends. We went directly into the gallery and stopped at John’s painting which is the first, immediately to the right of the entrance.* I shared with our little group some background on John Thomas as an artist, the “Boy with Goldfish” collaboration and my part in it, and the Rainbow Falls painting in particular. I was especially happy to see again the portrait of Auntie Edith Kanakaʻole** whom I had known. The large wood sculpture of an ʻopihi*** also caught my eye. I admired the artistry and craft of the work and mused over the relationship between it and the Rainbow Falls painting. As we parted in the lobby we all commented on how much we had enjoyed the experience, made the richer by us particular five. I really must do this again, soon.”
– Jerré

*recent changes to the exhibit include changing out Rainbow Falls for Woman With Orchids #4, also by John Paul Thomas. All photos here show views of the HAWAIʻI: Change & Continuity exhibit, currently scheduled to remain up through April 2020.

**Portrait of Edith Kanakaʻole / Willson Stamper / oil painting / 1980 / Art in Public Places Collection of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts

***Limpet / Virginia King / wood sculpture / 1997 / Art in Public Places Collection of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts

An abbreviated version of this article was published in the SFCA’s September 2018 email newsletter.