“A lot of people are talking about Sam’s piece,” says Art School graphic artist Christine Koroki, gesturing to a monoprint by outreach coordinator Sam Guerrero in the Art School’s main gallery. Included in this year’s All-Staff Exhibition, which opened this past Saturday and is on view through Jan. 31, Guerrero’s work depicts a black-and-white Frankenstein’s monster posing beachside in a half-buttoned aloha-shirt. The droopy-eyed hunk is comical, but clearly full of advanced printmaking techniques—the kinds of techniques Guerrero is usually found teaching to Art School students each semester.
While Art School instructors are regular contributors to the annual show, other staffers from across the museum also submit their creations. “This show isn’t juried,” explains Koroki, who is coordinating the exhibition. “Everything gets to come in, no matter what it is.” This year, that all-embracing approach resulted in a grand total of 91 works on display.
That sum includes more than a few pleasant surprises. For example, the finance department is represented by senior accountant Vanessa Lokan, who created a fine ceramic bowl, and director of finance Weijun Robertsun, whose big bright quilt titled Sunshine lights up a wall in the gallery. There’s a winter-themed watercolor by curator of education Betsy Robb, while the new curriculum specialist in the education department, Georgia McKenzie, has a masterfully sketched magnolia. Noriko Suzuki, an assistant in the Robert Allerton Art Library, painted a rich abstract triptych made from acrylic, tea, string, and silk wool; while art director Jared Stone submitted artwork for the first time in his five years at the museum—a lettered graphic called Pretty From Afar that incorporates vinyl, foil, and (his own?) body hair. Chief preparator Marc Thomas and his wife, conservation technician Susan Thomas, participate every year—he is showing a digital image, while she produced a metallic a bust from a repurposed anvil sporting three necklaces she made from metal and glass.
Susan Thomas submitted one of the few sculptures on view this year. “Usually we have a lot more,” Koroki says, adding that what did come in is impressive. Glass instructor Bud Spindt, for example, created a life-size glass sculpture modeled after a cast of his own head with a working light bulb fixed inside.
With such a diverse selection of works, Koroki says, “making an exhibition layout where everything flows together is a challenge.”
Docents are an integral part of the museum, and have their own annual exhibition—Eye of the Beholder—that has run concurrently with the staff show for the past three years.
“The show gives all docents a chance to learn how to enter a show, see what other docents are creating, sell their art, and get to know each other better,” explains docent Mary Flynn, who has helped to coordinate the show since its 1999 debut. “Most docents pursue other careers, with art as a hobby, or were so inspired by the art in the museum that it spurred them to create themselves,” says Flynn. “Many, including me, have taken wonderful classes at the Art School.”
As you wind out of the Art School’s main gallery up to the mezzanine, you may notice a few crossovers, like works by Allison Roscoe. A docent who joined the staff as a papermaking instructor last year, Roscoe has work in both shows. Other docent names you see in Eye of the Beholder may be familiar from exhibitions at the museum, around the state, and even in mainland galleries. Kaethe Kauffman is a professional working artist; Deb Nehmad’s solo show, WASTED, opens at the museum on Jan. 29, and Charlene Hughes’ quilts can be found in prestigious collections, including the Hawai‘i State Art Museum.