Stephen Niles talking about his work "Seen and Heard" in "Artists of Hawai'i."The Academy had its first Gallery Talk event for members last night and judging from the intense conversations attendees had with artists Stephen Niles, Rujunko Pugh and Russell Sunabe, it was a success. About 20 people booked a spot for the speed-art-night—each artist spoke for 10 minutes about their work in Artists of Hawai’i, then visitors chatted one-on-one with them  in the gallery and at Pavilion Cafe tables over glasses of wine from Grand Crew and little nibbles. Pugh explained how she splices her interest in science and art in her cyanotypes of plants that feature the flora’s DNA sequence. There were audible “Ohs!” as she talked about her process. Russell Sunabe read an eloquent mini-essay he had written (“I think better when I’m writing”), referencing Willem DeKooning in explaning how the “slipping and glimpsing” between abstraction and representation excited DeKooning and excites him too. Niles, pictured above, got a laugh when he said one of the reasons he chose to make a pastel drawing from his photograph taken at a Rikrit Tiravanija installation a few years ago was that he likes plywood. There is a lot of plywood in the image, and he thought it was a good challenge for his skills. He also said he likes his work to be authentic, so he largely paints and draws scenes he actually experienced.

People enjoyed the casual vibe and easy access to the artists—something that can be hard to do at a crowded, I’m-here-to-be-seen-not-heard opening.

Next Gallery Talk: Aug. 26, Shawn Eichman, Curator of Asian Art, will talk about Hawai‘i artist Charles Bartlett and the work he did in Japan. Event is limited to 50 people. To reserve a spot, call 532-8724. If you get the answering machine, be sure to leave your name and phone number so we can confirm your reservation. Thanks!