There’s a summery show of flowers and figures on view at the Halekūlani Hotel now. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports, a local painter is pulling together many parts of the community, in life and on canvas.
“Flowering in Conversation” continues through Saturday, September 7th 2018, at the Halekūlani Hotel, the gallery is located just as you turn the corner heading makai to the House Without a Key. Open to the public daily from 9am to 8pm.
Like most artists, painter Hadley Nunes is a master multi-tasker, and the show she has now at the Halekūlani is a nexus of things fun and floral in Honolulu. Nunes is the Floral Director at Paiko, a Kaka‘ako plant store that’s turning into a lifestyle brand. Hadley how would describe the style?
Nunes: One of the co-owners, Tamara Rigney, is really reaching outside of Hawai‘i, she also has background and understanding in the arts, so I think a lot of different influences come into her vision.
At Paiko, Nunes works with local flowers, in season. There’s an organized, architectural feel to the arrangements that people recognize.
Nunes: We’ve been loving working with anthuriums. Anthuriums have this amazing ability to express length and reach—they’re kind of the dancers out of the flower troupe. We play around with that in a fun way, that’s what makes it so fun to be a part of that group of people.
And you’ve taken that immersion in growing things into a studio experience for who? For everyone, right?
Nunes: Paige Donnelly is amazing, I have loved working with her so much this year! She created Hawai‘i’s first art tech app, called Art World Escape.
Art World Escape, or AWE, is an app that connects people with unique art experiences in Hawai‘i—studio visits, walking tours, art making—Nunes welcomes guests to her studio for group flower arranging and tea!
Nunes: It seemed to me that there were a lot of links I could make between the practice that I have in the studio, flowers, and sort of bringing together and cultivating an audience, also, for the work I’m doing in painting.
Flowers from group arrangements are showing up in the paintings, along with other painterly reference points, vases, historically resonant figures. Areas are painted in different ways, graphically, sketchy, wispy, bold. One larger canvas is a wavy, timeless space you want to walk into. Nunes wanted to give visitors a taste of both the fun and the focus she experiences in the studio.
Nunes: The studio is very much of a sanctuary for me. It’s a quiet space from all the things that are happening in the world it’s in that quiet space that I’m able to connect with what it is that I’m interested in expressing.
Nunes: If you’re sitting in a room and you say, OK everybody, let’s get in touch with the moment, Let’s be present. That can seem kind of, What are you talking about? But with a flower, it’s instant, because you’re looking at it and there you are.
So how did this Halekūlani show happen? About 4 years ago Nunes launched Present Project, a warehouse sized installation involving a hot NYC installation artist, Swoon, and a big education component. She’s probably been trying to recover ever since.
Nunes: You know, I really love teaching and I love supporting other people along their path within the arts. Especially students. It’s like when you look back and think about all the people who helped you and when I think about now, all these people who are helping me, Really there isn’t any greater fulfillment I have experienced that bringing something good to others.
Nunes was mentoring a high school student, Bethany Higa, last summer, hooking her up with filmmakers, artists and a studio. The Halekūlani got wind of it, (actually, Nunes sent a little newsletter about it to the hotel) and offered this show.
Artists, observe and learn: Nunes has been bringing people by the show and talking with them, discussing the work non-stop since it opened. This is how to work it.
By the way, Hadley Nunes paints in one of Honolulu’s most important creative hubs, Lana Lane in Kaka‘ako. She assures me these paintings are the product of long conversations there, especially with painter, educator Reem Bassous.