Today artists Lian Lederman, left, and Ryan Lee were in Gallery 28 installing their work in “Artists of Hawai’i 2009.” (The members-only opening is May 13, 6-8pm; the show opens to the public May 14.) They were separated by a wall, but their pieces definitely have a dialogue going on.
Lian is fashioning the leftovers of car decals—the outlines of hibiscus, honu and other rear-window blights—into a mini 3D Koolau range. Ryan has taken nihomano (shark tooth)—used in tattoo, kapa, and other traditional arts—and multiplied it and arranged it to symbolize life in the islands. Lian walks around hillocks of wadded up shiny decal vinyl and says “I have an image in my head of how it’s supposed to look.” The UH grad student and teacher (“It was a difficult semester—very intense.”) is originally from Israel and says the car decals struck her when she first arrived. “It was interesting how cars, instead of political statements as they have in Israel, were decorated more with images. They establish a false sense of belonging.” She calls her sticker sculpture “fantasy trash”—”the conceptual trash of Hawai’i.” The work is called “Fantasy Leftovers,” and Lian explains how people toil for hours at the manufacturers just so people have flowers and sea turtles to plaster onto their vehicles.
Ryan, left with sister Tracee, stands on a ladder, carefully rubbing vinyl onto the wall, his sister assisting him. “This has been on my mind a long time,” he says. “Visually [the shark tooth] has always made a strong impression on me.” Ryan, who moved back to Hawai‘i from San Francisco three years ago, studied music in college, but art is what he has wound up doing. The triangular “teeth” dance on the wall, like notes on a music score. For Ryan, the apparent “disorder, chaos and confusion” also reveal “movement, growth, evolution, beauty and perhaps an even greater inherent order”—reflecting his feelings about life in Hawai‘i and the world. “Nihomano” is his first submission to Artists of Hawai‘i, and not only was he accepted into the show, but he received the Violette Wong Hu Award, which was established by her children and grandchildren to recognize “an amateur Hawai‘i-based artist.”