Kaua‘i Society of Artists marks 25 with a showing

Last weekend 240 works of art were entered by 100 Kaua‘i artists for Kaua‘i Society of Artists annual show Art Kaua‘i.

Only 72 pieces by 54 artists were chosen. The juried art exhibition of those pieces opens at 5 p.m. tomorrow at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center and features some of Kaua‘i’s best known, as well as upcoming artists. The reception runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. At 5:30 p.m. exhibition jurors Lisa Yoshihara and Wayne Kawamoto from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa Art Gallery will give a “walk and talk” of the show followed by an awards presentation.

“They’ll give general impressions and why they chose what they did,” said KSA administrative assistant John Davison.

KSA is also celebrating 25 years as a nonprofit arts organization in Hawai‘i. In August of 1983, Kaua‘i was still reeling from the effects of  Hurricane Iwa, which had blown across the island the previous November. In the midst of a tough post-hurricane economy, a small group of island artisans calling themselves the Kaua‘i Society of Artists sought non-profit status, which made it easier for the group to apply for state grants available to non-profit arts groups.

The first board of directors was comprised of artists and arts supporters Christian Tirre, Carol Ann Davis, Carl Steinhart, Elise Plaut, Glenn Habermann, Julie Halpern, Phyllis Kunimura, Betty Santos, Olga Urminska and Millie Wellington.

The organization’s mission is to offer visual arts exhibitions and educational opportunities to Kaua‘i’s artists, residents and visitors through group art shows, lectures and workshops. For the Art Kaua‘i show Yoshihara and Kawamoto presented a slide lecture on personal adornment from China.

“We ask jurors to do something for the community like a workshop or lecture,” Davison said. “We’re just a little outer island. It’s good to have this perspective from outside.”

As a fledgling group in the mid 1970s, KSA’s focus was to promote interest in oil and acrylic painting. Since then, KSA has expanded its mission to include all visual art forms and more than quadrupled in size — growing from 24 active members to 160.

For the past 10 years Kukui Grove Shopping Center has provided an art venue for the group.

“We always get comments in our log books from people saying how cool it is to find art (here),” Davison said. “Things like ‘this is an oasis of beauty amid the hustle-bustle of a shopping center.’”

Community and commercial galleries abound on Kaua‘i, but the island lacks a community art center and has few suitable venues available for group art exhibitions by local artists.

“We’re lucky to have a space at Kukui Grove,” Davison said. “Kukui Grove is ideal because so many people go there who wouldn’t necessarily go to an art exhibition. I like that we’re there. It’s a gift to the community.”

The annual juried Art Kaua‘i exhibition is the only exhibition held on Kaua‘i where local artists are considered for the prestigious state Art in Public Places collection displayed in the Hawai‘i State Art Museum and state buildings throughout the islands. KSA exhibitions give Kaua‘i’s artists and the community-at-large a chance to experience a broad spectrum of locally produced art free of charge in a non-commercial setting.

The reception opens at 5 p.m. followed by tours by the jurors and an award presentation and an introduction to the new KSA board of directors. The exhibition continues through Oct. 30. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 8 p.m. Fridays.

• Pam Woolway, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 257 or pwoolway@kauaipubco.com

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