German filmmaker Werner Herzog once described auctioneering as “the last poetry possible, the poetry of capitalism.” Now and throughout the month of June, non-profit organization Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) and sister non-profit organization Hawaiian Way Fund (HWF) will host the Hawaiian Way Fund Benefit Native Arts Auction. But this auction won’t necessarily be the auction Herzog was harkening back to.
Instead, the native arts auction will match the uniqueness of Hawaii’s own tradition and culture; it will return to an earlier form of exchange, which meant bartering with goods and services.
HWF Coordinator Fetia Solomon explains, “I think the most unique thing about the auction is that we are not only trying to get the word out about supporting Native Hawaiian culture, but attract people to the Hawaiian Way Fund. We want to not only get the community involved with having to give monetary donations, but to actually bid their services.”
If the idea of gaining something without paying money seems too unconventional to wrap around the modern mind, Solomon offers some helpful plausible cases: “For example, maybe a financial institution will bid free banking services for a certain amount of time or a solar contractor might bid the installation of a solar water heating system…we’re completely open!”
Alas, art is expensive. With these Native Hawaiian art pieces–ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000–this kind of auction can quench the thirst for art despite the economic drought. Solomon says, “Not everyone can shell out $6,000 for a painting, but maybe you can provide $2,000 in funding and $4,000 worth of service.” The auction, which seems to be entirely fueled by altruism, will direct all profits to support HWF’s focus on community-based initiatives that preserve Hawaiian culture.
Six Native Hawaiian pieces will be featured from contributing artists like Kahi Ching, Kaui Chun and Harinani Orme. From an intricate wood carving to a large canvas depicting an abstraction, each work of art tells a unique story firmly rooted to Native Hawaiian history.