Five Questions with Jonathan Johnson

June 30, 2022
Jonathan Johnson in aloha shirt and several lei

Jonathan “JJ” Johnson has retired from the SFCA after 34 years. JJ began working for the SFCA in 1988 as the Registrar and held various positions including Art in Public Places Project Manager, and served as Executive Director from 2014-2022. He will continue supporting the community through the Friends of the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum nonprofit volunteer organization and in the private sector.⁠ JJ had a few minutes this week to reflect on his career.   

Q: What were the most pivotal moments in your career?  

As an Art in Public Places Project Manager, it was working statewide in communities, creating public art. While facilitating projects at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa Kamakakūolani Center for Hawaiian Studies, I learned new strategies for the SFCA to support the Native Hawaiian community. As Executive Director, working with Art in Public Places Director Karen Ewald to establish and support an engaged workforce at SFCA. Pivoting to a highly effective workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic made me very proud of the team.  

Q: What is something you will miss?  

The people! Working with folks at the Department of Accounting and General Services (AGS), SFCA, and the state legislature to make a difference in people’s lives.  

Q:  You have just joined the board of the Friends of the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum. What are you looking forward to doing with the Friends? 

Aligning the organization to support the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum. Bringing fresh perspectives to the board, and helping to increase accessibility to the public.  

Q: As an Art in Public Places Project Manager, what was your favorite permanent work of art?  

Always the next one! Always most excited about the next project and participating in the creative process. The creative process was the high.  

Q: Best thing about working for the State of Hawaiʻi?  

I am grateful to have been able to work in a place where we can make a positive impact in people’s lives.  

I would like to thank everyone who I have worked with in my various roles at the SFCA.  My career at the SFCA was rewarding because I was able to work with amazing people to effect change. Over the years, I have enjoyed the challenge of finding creative solutions to ensure equitable access to the arts. I feel fortunate I was able to make a positive impact throughout the state through the SFCA with the many art projects and cultural programming for the people of Hawaiʻi.

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