aloHAA doesn’t cover only Academy goings on. We like to highlight notable art events around town—we just want people looking at art, no matter where it is. Don’t let last year’s lackluster UH graduate art show (it was marked by poor execution and lack of well-thought-out ideas) keep you from seeing what the students are up to this year. It’s an exciting exhibition that inhabits the gallery space well. (Bravo to Art Dept chair Gaye Chan and the rest of the hardworking faculty.) And it illustrates how local art venues can nourish each other—Allison Uttley’s mural, the charting of a marriage, makes it clear that she took inspiration and new technique from her experience as an assistant to Megan Wilson at thirtyninehotel. San Francisco-based Wilson, with Los Angeles artist Carolyn Castaño, did the explosive wall installation “This Fever I Can’t Resist” at thirtyninehotel last year as part of its artist-in-residence program 39CARP.
At the graduate show’s Jan. 18 opening, Alyssa Olivier was part of her installation “Love Notes”—she laid in a bed, under a golden quilt made of squares printed with the image of postal receipts from mailed love letters. (In fact, Olivier invites you to get involved—she supplies a desk, paper and pen for you to write your own love letter.) Artists have turned to beds before—Sophie Calle documented strangers dozing on her bed in her 1980 work “Les Dormeurs” (The Sleepers) and in 1999 sent her bed to Bay Area artist (and fan) Josh Green to help him get over a breakup, and of course there’s Tracy Emin’s notorious “My Bed“—but it’s good to see a student getting conceptual and appropriating the mattress meme for her own idea.
Especially lovely and delightful is Shannon Leitch’s “Floating Up, Floating Down, Failing Success.” I stood for a few minutes, blowing at the precision grid of hanging “leaves” made of etching on rice paper and wood. They rippled in the gallery, like visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, but also evoking winter, death, decay and what-is-the-meaning of life angst.
Recessionary materials make an appearance—plastic bags are featured in two works, including J. Robert Reed’s tower o’ trash “Let Them Eat Cake.” Fantastic confection and hobo explosion, the installation throws our gotta-have-it-now ways in our smug faces. In a fun way.
“31: Graduate Student Exhibition” is on view at the UH-Manoa Art Gallery through Feb. 13. Plan a visit. The gallery is open on Sunday afternoons.