HONOLULU -- Visitors stopped to stare at the watercolor, painted so
precisely it looked like a photograph.
The subject -- a seedy used car lot -- though colorful, didn't
seem worthy of such a work of art.
A curator explained its significance, to nods of recognition:
The picture depicted the former site of the $350 million Hawaii
The watercolor is just one example of the 360 paintings and
sculptures that fill the Hawaii State Art Museum, which opened
earlier this month with the theme, "Enriched by Diversity ... the
Art of Hawaii."
The museum, which is located on the second floor of the No. 1
Capitol District Building, offers visitors to Hawaii the
opportunity to discover the history and culture of the land and its
people through the works of local artists.
As diversity is the facility's theme, some sections highlight
the islands' Asian roots. Others focus on the inspiration of the
land and sea and some on social consciousness.
Greeting visitors as they enter the museum is an enormous
painting by Herb Kane portraying the discovery of Hawaii.
Men aboard a double-hulled sailing canoe, rocked by the high
seas, watch in wonder at the orange flash of a volcano's fury
rising from the ocean.
The other side of the wall hosts a traditional Mango bowl --
easily three feet in diameter -- and a regal quilt made in
Stylized representations of Hawaiian women illustrate the early
years of artist Pegge Hopper, whose work also is presented, along
with Big Island sculptor Randall Takaki, who carves emotive human
figures out of discarded logs.
The Hawaii State Art Museum is housed on the site of the former
Royal Hawaiian Hotel, built in 1872 under the reign of Lot
In 1926, the original wooden building was demolished, replaced
by the current Spanish mission-style concrete and stucco
The second-floor balcony offers views of the Iolani Palace and
the state capitol across the street.
Plans are under way to open a gift shop and museum cafe in 2004,
a museum spokesman said.
Through the Art in State Building Act, Hawaii became the first
state to set aside 1% of the construction cost of a new state
government building for the acquisition and commission of works of
Since the act was passed in 1967, more than 5,000 pieces by
1,400 artists have been purchased.
The Hawaii State Art Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
For additional information, call the Hawaii State Art Museum at
(808) 586-0900 or visit the facility's Web site at www.state.hi.us/sfca.