Star-Bulletin Features

Marge Goodwill designed the cover of the latest Folio,
left. Alanna Stewart-Bell's work includes actual bubble wrap.

This gallery
fits in your lap

Every quarter, Folio makes
art work portable and affordable

By Nadine Kam

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Folio 94 was born with high hopes of democratizing art by packaging it in a quarterly magazine anyone could have and hold.

Folio 94, subtitled "Conversation for Those Who Create," was designed by Maggie Yee and Brian Garvey to be a limited-edition compilation of visual art and prose for creative types who in the beginning submitted 200 copies of their work to be bound with pieces by kindred spirits.

For most, this meant a long-term relationship with a photo-copy machine, although each page had to be touched by the artist's hand in some way, whether to glue a thingamabob here or paint a streak there.

Since the early days, the number of copies produced dropped to 100 and the price slipped from $40 to $10 as Yee and Garvey discovered art is still among the last priorities for disposable income.

But the gallery-in-a-magazine celebrates another anniversary this month and the couple enter their fourth year of production with hopes and ideals intact.

Beyond the idea of exposure for artists, there is simple joy in Folio's mission of encouraging dialogue and expression.

Garvey, a self-described amateur artist who works for Federal Express by day, said, "When you go back to childhood, you remember finishing a drawing and running and showing it to your teacher or parents. You want to share it.

"I'm happy for people who can sell and make money from art, but there's more to it than fame and wealth."

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Brian Garvey and Maggie Yee work on an edition of Folio.

Contributor Margo Goodwill, a frequent gallery exhibitor, created the front and back covers for Folio's anniversary issue. Her drawings were based on her mask sculptures.

"I loved them when I was done, but I didn't know what to do with them. When Maggie asked me if I had anything to contribute, I said, 'I have just the thing.'

"I don't make a financial gain (from Folio) but artistically I'm spurred by it and the people who see it. For me, it's autonomous art I can do for myself. Once it's done, I have this venue for sharing it with others."

Artist Arthur Nelander finds it challenging to step away from his environmental scale projects and work within the confines of a sheet of paper.

"It encourages artists to try a new format and gives viewers a chance to collect fine art.

"I promote Folio 100 percent. I like the whole idea about it. There's certainly a market for it and a creative need for it on Oahu.

Nelander has exhibited nine times on the mainland this year and has a show at The Gallery on the Pali at Unitarian Church through Nov. 27. Yet Folio is one of the few venues for his work on Oahu.

Times have changed since the early '80s, he said, when Honolulu was one of the main destinations for Japanese collectors of American art.

Today, "You can't make a living as an artist here," Nelander said, "But artists have a responsibility to the public. Part of that responsibility is putting one's work out where it can be viewed and invite feedback to complete the creative process."

"I still get excited every time a new issue of Folio comes out," Yee said, "In between there's three months of down time and I kind of wonder if people appreciate it.

"I feel positive since we get a lot of favorable reaction. We don't get as much exposure as we would like, but what little we get is really encouraging."

Yee is a graphic artist for Hawaii Antiques and Hawaii Beverage Guide who works on her personal art at night. Far from detracting from her painting, Yee said, "Folio keeps me creating. It's too easy to veg out at night when there's no goal or deadline."

In addition to serving as an artistic calling card, Folio has allowed Yee to grow as a person.

"I've learned a little more confidence. As an artist, you always deal with rejection. With Folio it was no different. I was afraid to ask people to contribute. It was bad enough asking them to give me something for free when in Hawaii people are so busy.

"Then the first time I turned down one person I sweated over it for one week, trying to think of how to break the news. After that it got easier, even if I lost sleep over it."

In the back of her mind, Yee fears that Hawaii's inhospitable economy will mean she and Garvey may have to move to the mainland some day. Even so, Folio -- which already draws a handful of national contributions -- could live on in yet another format, mail art.

Yee's work on the theme "art in a can" was recently selected from 100 submissions as one of 25 included in a catalog "exhibition" mailed to participants and subscribers.

As artists search for creative methods of getting their work into peoples' hands, Garvey said it's possible for Folio to span distances as well. "People can create the art and just send it out. If we could go international, that would be great."

The reason for such alternative galleries is obvious. "This is art you can keep," Goodwill said. "It's not like at a physical gallery or restaurant where you see it once and that's it. It's a different kind of experience.

"I keep my anniversary issue propped up in my bookcase and I look at it every day and say, 'That's cool.' "

Folio 94 reception

Time: 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday
Place: Coffee Time Cafe, 3506 Waialae Ave.
Admission: Free
Call: 735-9659
Where to buy Folio: Abacus Studio, Art Plantation, Borders Books and Music, The Contemporary Museum Store and Sisu Gallery. Also, The Booksmith and Huntington Beach Art Center in San Francisco.
Also: Originals of Margo Goodwill's Folio covers are on view at Kakaako Kitchen through Christmas.

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