Social Lite

Image: Christa Wittmier

In a money-is-the-bottom-line world, the distractions needed to restore calm are almost always art or music for me. Investing the time needed to soak up culture comes and goes, but I can always appreciate the “in your face” approach some artists have taken to create discussion or force awareness and basically pull my head out of the foggy day-to-day. Everybody is busy, so that extra push to put it right there in front of you is a great step.

Mat Kubo is usually the first that comes to mind when I think about efforts like that, with his 319 metal US Army stryker vehicle “Miniature Monument to Empire” pieces affixed throughout Waikiki and Honolulu for the weeks leading up to his show in 2006, the public was almost forced to react. Walking to and from my office downtown at the time, I remember seeing one on the Queen Emma street bridge crossing the H-1 freeway thinking “that’s an odd place to have a trolley-stop” at first, but later realizing what they were about from curiosity and conversation with others. That dialog leading up to the show, the show itself and the entire project was remarkable for the discussion aspect alone and left a lasting impression on me as a veteran. Five years and many other amazing projects including a global Pow Wow in Hawaii, Jasper Wong has returned home to Hawaii for good. Re-imagining and completely overhauling the large warehouse space behind Fresh Café in to Loft in Space, he has been working with some major artists to show in Hawaii. He is effectively bringing his worldly experience with contemporary and street art to Fresh Café’s backyard, so to speak. A huge space, a great website and scheduled shows from the likes of KR (the guy from Krink), Patrick Martinez (a piece recently scooped up by Drake in Los Angeles), Neckface, and Johnny Cupcakes are all on deck. These names may or may not ring a bell but they’re doing big things across the nation and globe, it will be a treat to have them.

If anyone appreciates someone working hard to create such a great addition to the contemporary/creative scene, it’s Tiffany Tanaka. Her casual “do you want to have your car in the October show?” question to me months ago only just now has pulled me into the reality of what that would entail, as the current show is just about ready, and Oakland artist Aaron De La Cruz has landed. Thirty-six hours of painting and one white BMW 318ti later, I have become a driving, breathing part of it, and everywhere I went last weekend was definitely included. The Sheraton’s valet at Saturday’s Iona Contemporary Dance Theater’s magical annual fund raiser dreamland, passerby’s downtown on a busy First Friday, and all of my fellow 9-to-5 freeway commute neighbors have been given a glimpse of his very calculated yet idiosyncratic black lines. Just like that, it’s in our face. Just like that, our minds are being opened. Just like that, an artist has taken one more step beyond what has been done, and is encouraging thought and curiosity. I love it.

The “in your face” culture doesn’t stop in October, with so many films + events to take in surrounding HIFF. Yay HIFF!

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