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HiSAM Connecting Artists to the Community

September 16, 2017

The Hawaiʻi State Art Museum is located in the historic No. 1 Capitol District Building across the street from Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu. The museum receives funding from the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, which allows it to remain free and open to the public. Built in 1928, this Spanish-Mission style structure comprises  three galleries, an outdoor lanai, a cafe by MW, and a modern gallery shop known as HiSAM gallery shop x Mori.

 

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Photo​ ​by​ ​Leimomi​ ​Bong Mori​ ​by​ ​Art+Flea​ ​brings​ ​together​ ​young​ ​creatives​ ​from​ ​Hawaii​ ​to​ ​form​ ​a​ ​stronger​ ​community representing​ ​Hawaii​ ​and​ ​its​ ​local​ ​artists.​ ​Now,​ ​Mori​ ​is​ ​bringing​ ​this​ ​spirit​ ​to​ ​HiSAM​ ​with​ ​the​ ​new collaborative​ ​gallery​ ​shop,​ ​with​ ​hopes​ ​of​ ​transforming​ ​not​ ​only​ ​the​ ​retail​ ​space​ ​on​ ​the​ ​ground floor​ ​of​ ​the​ ​museum,​ ​but​ ​also​ ​elevating​ ​the​ ​experience​ ​of​ ​being​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​HiSAM​ ​and​ ​the​ ​art scene​ ​at​ ​large.   As​ ​of​ ​June​ ​2017,​ ​the​ ​gallery​ ​shop​ ​has​ ​undergone​ ​transformative​ ​renovations​ ​and​ ​rebranding​ ​by Mori​ ​by​ ​Art+Flea​ ​in​ ​an​ ​effort​ ​to​ ​reinvigorate​ ​the​ ​space​ ​and​ ​create​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​connection​ ​between the​ ​gallery​ ​shop,​ ​the​ ​museum,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​local​ ​community.   New​ ​paint,​ ​fixtures,​ ​and​ ​lighting​ ​are​ ​immediate​ ​signs​ ​of​ ​change​ ​since​ ​the​ ​shop’s​ ​soft​ ​opening​ ​in June​ ​2017,​ ​but​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​new​ ​perspective​ ​of​ ​how​ ​HiSAM​ ​connects​ ​with​ ​artists​ ​and​ ​the​ ​community that​ ​is​ ​pushing​ ​Honolulu’s​ ​art​ ​scene​ ​forward.​ ​Revered​ ​local​ ​artist​ ​John​ ​Koga​ ​recognizes​ ​the need​ ​for​ ​a​ ​space​ ​like​ ​the​ ​new​ ​HiSAM​ ​x​ ​Mori​ ​gallery​ ​shop,​ ​but​ ​frankly​ ​states​ ​that​ ​it​ ​“will​ ​take​ ​a community​ ​to​ ​sustain​ ​it.”  

 

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At​ ​the​ ​forefront​ ​of​ ​this​ ​shift​ ​is​ ​Mori​ ​by​ ​Art+Flea’s​ ​team,​ ​lead​ ​by​ ​owners​ ​Aly​ ​Ishikuni-Sasaki​ ​and Travis​ ​Sasaki,​ ​who​ ​are​ ​in​ ​charge​ ​of​ ​curating​ ​locally​ ​produced​ ​products,​ ​overseeing​ ​interior design,​ ​and​ ​organizing​ ​gallery​ ​shop​ ​events.​ ​The​ ​space​ ​exists​ ​as​ ​a​ ​gallery​ ​and​ ​a​ ​shop​ ​combined that​ ​serves​ ​as​ ​a​ ​platform​ ​for​ ​the​ ​talent​ ​and​ ​creativity​ ​abounding​ ​in​ ​our​ ​island​ ​home.​ ​The​ ​gallery shop​ ​has​ ​grown​ ​out​ ​of​ ​a​ ​need​ ​for​ ​a​ ​place​ ​where​ ​the​ ​community​ ​can​ ​find​ ​creative,​ ​progressive stories​ ​being​ ​told​ ​in​ ​Hawaiʻi. Supported​ ​by​ ​artists​ ​like​ ​Koga​ ​and​ ​Satoru​ ​Abe,​ ​the​ ​word​ ​is​ ​getting​ ​out​ ​that​ ​HISAM’s​ ​new​ ​gallery shop​ ​is​ ​doing​ ​things​ ​differently.​ ​Traditionally​ ​speaking,​ ​a​ ​museum’s​ ​gallery​ ​shop​ ​is​ ​positioned​ ​to exhibit​ ​and​ ​sell​ ​art,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​no​ ​exception​ ​here.​ ​But​ ​beyond​ ​that,​ ​the​ ​gallery​ ​shop​ ​aims​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a living,​ ​breathing​ ​center​ ​of​ ​the​ ​art​ ​scene​ ​in​ ​the​ ​islands​ ​where​ ​artists​ ​and​ ​the​ ​community converge.   “The​ ​value​ ​[in​ ​art]​ ​is​ ​in​ ​the​ ​conversation,”​ ​Koga​ ​said​ ​when​ ​describing​ ​his​ ​vision​ ​for​ ​the​ ​gallery shop.​ ​“For​ ​me​ ​life​ ​is​ ​all​ ​about​ ​this​ ​type​ ​of​ ​collaboration.​ ​It’s​ ​all​ ​connected.”​ ​Koga​ ​spoke​ ​about​ ​the collaboration​ ​between​ ​HiSAM​ ​and​ ​Mori​ ​by​ ​Art+Flea,​ ​raising​ ​the​ ​bar​ ​in​ ​art​ ​in​ ​Hawaiʻi,​ ​and​ ​how interconnected​ ​island​ ​life​ ​can​ ​be.   HiSAM​ ​x​ ​Mori​ ​by​ ​Art+Flea​ ​has​ ​set​ ​out​ ​to​ ​become​ ​an​ ​honest​ ​reflection​ ​and​ ​representation​ ​of Hawaiʻi’s​ ​art​ ​scene.​ ​Since​ ​June,​ ​the​ ​gallery​ ​shop​ ​has​ ​held​ ​three​ ​First​ ​Friday​ ​events​ ​with​ ​rotating exhibits​ ​featuring​ ​artists​ ​from​ ​around​ ​the​ ​islands​ ​— the​ ​most​ ​recent​ ​event​ ​featured​ ​work​ ​by Satoru​ ​Abe,​ ​Abigail​ ​Romanchak,​ ​Allyn​ ​Bromley,​ ​Carl​ ​Pao,​ ​Jodi​ ​Edicott,​ ​and​ ​John​ ​Koga​ ​in​ ​the downstairs​ ​area.​ ​Upstairs,​ ​local​ ​soul​ ​trio​ ​Bridgefinder​ ​performed​ ​to​ ​an​ ​audience​ ​of​ ​young​ ​and old,​ ​new​ ​visitors​ ​and​ ​long-time​ ​museum​ ​members.​ ​The​ ​overall​ ​atmosphere​ ​felt​ ​as​ ​if​ ​the​ ​museum has​ ​begun​ ​to​ ​open​ ​a​ ​new​ ​door​ ​in​ ​its​ ​15​ ​year​ ​existence,​ ​undoubtedly​ ​brought​ ​forth​ ​by​ ​the collaboration​ ​between​ ​HiSAM​ ​and​ ​Mori. 

 

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