Here in Lahaina I’m told that Wyland is the best environmental artist in the world. In the same gallery there’s the work of “America’s greatest living artist” — John Pitre. Down the street there’s Christian Riese Lassen’s work, a similar genre as Wyland, shining, lots of cyan and a prominent list of pop-stars and other celebrated clientele. In another gallery an attractive and friendly woman allows me to see the Picassoesque prints of prodigy child-artist Alexandra Nechita and quotes me the special pre-publication prices. Here in the Hawaii art world there’s the magic of light, sunsets, moonlight, whales, dolphins, beach-scapes, underwaters and transformers such as crashing breakers materializing into thundering white horses. There’s Cibachromes and Giclée limited editions, both hand-worked and not. Some artists have as many as three galleries in town and all personnel are eager to share stories, anecdotes, insights, coffee-table books and professional videos. In one gallery there’s a clear Lucite cross with a negative-cast crucified Jesus suspended mysteriously within, nearby a photo of the recently deceased sculptor Frederick Hart with his patron the pope. Further on Front Street it’s possible to buy the art of the celebrities themselves: David Bowie, Miles Davis, John Lennon, Red Skelton, Anthony Quinn. Then there’s Robert Lyn Nelson Originator of the Modern Marine Art Movement. In yet another gallery there’s the comforting, down home images of Thomas Kincaid. One gallery has a sign that simply and modestly states “The Greatest Art Show on Earth.”
I’m on a nearby quiet and shady beach with my personal painting concerns and the restorative power of art. As this particular millennium turns I’m wondering where it’s all leading. A middle-aged tourist couple walks by with a large flat package. Art’s going onto walls, I think. It’s democratic, that’s what art is, it’s democratic.
PS: I’m afloat in the marvellous diversity, the undersea wonder and its brilliant paintability. (Robert Genn)