Our Islands, Our Future

The Maui Arts and Cultural Center is presenting the O Kalani exhibit at the Schaefer International Gallery from April 5-June 18, 2022. The show, featuring the work of prominent, Kānaka contemporary artists, Sean Kekamakupa’aikapono Ka’onohiokalani Lee Loy Browne and Imaikalani Kalahele, represents a pivotal moment in the history of Hawaii. Browne and Kalahele have been active since the latter part of the 20th century during a resurgence of Hawaiian culture. Drawing inspiration from stories, history, legends, and current events, and using themes from the past to create contemporary art narratives, each artist has charted his own course and helped define contemporary Hawaiian art.

Kalahele, artist, poet, musician, and respected kupuna, has developed diverse forms of expression with his work, including various Hawaiian anthologies in addition to his own book, Kalahele (2002), a collection of poetry. “I like to imbue my paintings with vivid compositions and imagery that connect us to history and legends,” Kalahele noted. “Using ancestral knowledge to guide me, I interpret spirituality and nature to manifest ideas in a unique visual style, addressing issues faced by the Hawaiian community.”

Drawing inspiration from his Native Hawaiian ancestry, Browne portrays mythical and historic figures in sculptural forms using cast bronze, carved wood and stone. Contributing to a sense of place, his large public works of art are installed throughout Hawaii. “Many of my historic figures are depicted realistically,” Browne explained. “My works with gods and demi-gods are stylized, translating supernatural acts and legends into smaller simplified forms. Organized in collaboration with the Honolulu Museum of Art, I hope the Maui community enjoys the exhibit.”

“I was so impressed with this show when I saw it, I knew I had to bring it to Maui,” said Gallery Director Neida Bangerter. “The title, O Kalani, which can be translated as ‘from the heavens’, references a relationship with the divine, and also acknowledges the names of both artists: Kalani.” Agreeing, Assistant Director Jonathan Yukio Clark said, “The two artists bridge the connection between past inherited knowledge and contemporary issues through their own very distinct language and vocabulary. What is beautiful about this show is the way their art works together.”

Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10-4pm, free. Also free, the gallery is offering an Observe and Play Family Day on May 7, 10-12noon for families to view the exhibit together, explore activities in storytelling and legends, and make a piece of art to take home.

Neida Bangerter, Gallery Director