"On the Road Through Burma," Joe BrightLast night’s members’ opening of Artists of Hawai‘i 2009 was a fabulous climax to two years of work. In a stroke of luck former European and American Art Curator Michael Rooks, who initiated the cool changes to the now-biannual exhibition, was in from New York, mingling with his successor Theresa Papanikolas and special projects assistant curator Rui Sasaki who orchestrated the show. More than 1,000 people came to see what’s new with Hawai‘i artists. (That’s Joe Bright, with lei, in front of his popular “On the Road Through Burma,” which originally appeared in the exhibition “And Justice for All” at thirtyninehotel last October.)

Curated by Laura Hoptman, the Kraus Family Senior Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the show is an intriguing mix of work, ranging from a Moke Stanton’s Polynesian voyaging canoe made out of newspaper and shoe polish (it’s amazing) to Kloe Kang’s projected animation. Reactions have also covered  a wide range, from “I’m thinking they looked a lot better on the computer screen? How else could they have been chosen?” (via Twitter) to “It’s a great show.” Judge for yourself. The exhibition is up through Aug. 16. 

Four Academy staffers submitted work to Artists of Hawai‘i, and one made it in—Hiroko Sakurai, who works in the Asian Painting Conservation Studio (she’s pictured below, right). Jun Matsuura (third row below, center) manufactures wrestling masks for a living. His wife revealed that he made the masks in the show for himself and his dog and she suggested he submit them as “Friends.” And he was accepted.