Part of Au's Shaolin Arts Society Chinese New Year performance, Baba will join the festivities to share his artwork.
Developed as a public installation that once lived outside of Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House/ Maui Historical Society on Main Street in Wailuku, Baba revived the piece over the course of the last year for the SMALL TOWN * BIG ART call to artists. Proposals called for quality, style, experience in creating communal or public art, significance to Wailuku and alignment with a pre-selected ʻōlelo noʻeau by Sissy Lake-Farm, Director of Hale Hōʻikeʻike.
“There are many aspects and cultures that make Maui, Local,” shares Baba, “A symbolic Icon of Hawaii and Wailuku is the Chinese to go container. It symbolizes memories and the mixture of cultures that have mixed and grown to become Hawaiʻi. When I created this, it was received beyond what it represented to me, and the diversity of who gravitated to it was overwhelming. I have been told that Wailuku needs an artwork that symbolizes art, culture and food and this to me has represented this to everyone who has seen it.”
A collaboration of the National Endowment of the Arts, County of Maui and Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House/ Maui Historical Society, SMALL TOWN * BIG ART is a creative placemaking pilot project with a mission to develop Wailuku, Hawaiʻi as a public arts district that is focused on its distinctive sense of place, history and culture. The project is led by County of Maui Redevelopment Program Planner Erin Wade and Public Art Specialist Kelly McHugh-White, with guidance and support by Sissy Lake-Farm, Director of Hale Ho'ike'ike at The Bailey House Museum/ Maui Historical Society.
“Something that we keep hearing from the public is, ‘it’s working!’ ‘You’re getting people to share their own Wailuku stories with each other!’ ‘The art is bringing them together!’” says McHugh-White, “Each artist that we are collaborating with has uncovered their own unique Wailuku narrative by working directly with this growing network of arts enthusiasts and storytellers. The artwork is a catalyst for community building, historic preservation and an enhanced wonder for Wailuku.”
51 SMALL TOWN * BIG ART proposals were submitted in February 2019 through CaFÉ, a public, online call-for-artists management system run by Western States Arts Federation, and a review panel was created with a careful balance of community, historical, art and grant making expertise. Baba's was one of 13 projects that were selected to move into project development in order to sharpen timelines, budgets, opportunities for community engagement, project renderings and any additional resource management. To date, SMALL TOWN * BIG ART has executed public art collaborations with lightwork artist Andy Behrle of Kīhei, Canadian-born muralist Emmanuel Jarus, Wailuku-based E.H.A (Endemic Hawaii Artists), comprised of Kirk Kurokawa, Elmer Bio, Amanda Bowers and Noble Richardson, and award-winning sculptor Jessica Bodner, with an additional Día de los Muertos event in which the public made offerings – photos, food, flowers, etc. – for a communal shrine created at Kīpuka Square with Jackie Goring and Tamara Li. Countless community members have supported these projects with their manaʻo and hands-on participation, consistently remarking on the sense of community, inspiration and education that each experience has offered.
The January 31 sneak peek of Baba's sculpture will be followed by other public viewings, to be announced via the smalltownbig.org mailing list as well as facebook.com/smalltownbigart and Instagram handle @smalltownbigart.
The next SMALL TOWN * BIG ART unveiling will take place during the February 7 First Friday event, created by Maui Academy of Performing Arts. Stay tuned for details.