Hawaii’s Unique Art Scene Continues to Attract Attention

Hawaii is as gorgeous a place as there is in America, or anywhere in the world for that matter. This stretch of small volcanic islands that makes up the United States’ 50th state is home to some of the most incredible natural scenery imaginable. Located deep in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is nearly 2,000 miles to the closest continent, yet these islands are home to almost one and a half million Americans.

While Hawaii is known for its incredible beaches and surfing, volcanic mountains and rainforest, and incredible natural splendors, the local culture is also a big part of the appeal to America’s most unique state.

Hawaii has a rich history, starting with the settling of the island by Polynesian explorers. From that time, the Polynesians built a rich and incredible civilization before European colonization led to the decline of their population and turmoil on the islands. Eventually, American efforts to integrate Hawaii as a state won out and Hawaii became a part of the U.S.

However, Hawaii’s heritage as a native Polynesian civilization still lingers today on the islands. It is celebrated by tourists in the forms of luaus and leis and is ever-present in the local food scenes. While much of Hawaii’s culture has become Americanized, 10% of the population is native Hawaiian, and their cultural influence remains hugely important to the state.

The Hawaiian art scene is one area of Hawaiian society where the native influences are still heavily felt. Hawaii has an art scene that is entirely unique and separate from the larger United States art scene, and it attracts attention from around the world.

Let’s look at two of the centers of art culture in Hawaii, the primary places and events that define how Hawaiian art is perceived.

Waikiki Artfest

Waikiki is a Honolulu neighborhood that is well-known around the world. One of the centers of Honolulu, Waikiki, has hotels, resorts, fashion centers, and trendy restaurants. Its best known for its great beach and incredible surfing, but every month, there is another thing Waikiki becomes known for: their Artfest.

The Waikiki Artfest is located at Kapiolani Park Beach, and it runs for 7 hours, starting at 9 am. The event is less of a curated gallery-type event and more of a way for local craftspeople to sell their art in an event that attracts a large crowd.

The Artfest features 50+ artists and artisans selling handcrafted art pieces such as jewelry, ceramics, photographs, paintings, and more. It is a more grounded way to experience the Hawaii art scene, with each piece present on sale, with the people that made them selling them. This lets attendees mingle with local Hawaiian artists and artisans and experience the culture away from the slightly stuffier galleries. The Artfest is also a plain good time, with live Hawaiian music and delicious food on sale.

Image source: thisweekhawaii.com

Honolulu Museum of Art

As Hawaii’s biggest and most well-known city, it makes sense that Honolulu is the epicenter of Hawaii’s art scene. Honolulu is a globally recognized city that is filled with things to do. Honolulu has top-notch beaches, delicious local food, major historical sites, and some of the best-known landmarks in all of Hawaii. Suppose you happen to have some downtime in Honolulu. In that case, you can also experience the largest art museum in the state that is filled with historical and contemporary Hawaiian contributions to art.

The Honolulu Museum of Art has been around since before Hawaii officially became an American state, opening its doors in 1927. The museum started as a missionary’s private art collection, but as the collection expanded, so did their willingness to display it to the public, and the museum was born.

Within the Honolulu Museum of Art, you can find a huge variety of different art on display from across regions. You can find North American, Asian, and European works, but the museum’s primary purpose is to display Hawaiian art. There are a ton of historical artifacts from pre-colonial Hawaii, including sculptures and paintings from the early 1800s.

There are also many contemporary Hawaiian work at the museum, including their current exhibition Artists of Hawai’i Now, which features 18 different artists. This exhibition highlights the people making the most significant current impact on the Hawaiian art scene. It includes 13 different installations that draw on various mediums such as performance, technology, and more.

The Honolulu Museum of Art is the biggest art museum in Hawaii, with 60,000 different pieces on display, and Waikiki Artfest is a great on-the-ground way of exploring the art scene. However, there is so much art to see in Hawaii, and these places just scratch the surface.

Image source: honolulumuseum.org