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Hitting the benchmark


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POSTED: Sunday, October 05, 2008

Times have been really tough at The Contemporary Museum in the last week. Economic woes led to cuts of approximately half the staff, and Hawaii saw the first big hit to its arts community since Wall Street's dire crisis began unfolding.

It's somewhat apropos, then, that the museum's latest project is a fundraiser for itself. "BenchMark" commemmorates the venue's 20th anniversary with 20 benches created by local artists. The pieces are currently being housed all over the city, in such places as the Hawaii State Library, Kahala Mall, Honolulu and Kapolei hales, the Waikiki Parc Hotel and the Honolulu Zoo.

The benches can be purchased for a "Buy It Now" price, but art lovers looking to stretch their dollar a bit further can participate in a silent auction through Oct. 26.

Why benches?

"We wanted to highlight the museum's beautiful gardens," says Suze Salm, who co-chaired the project with Christine Feldmann on behalf of the Friends of The Contemporary Museum. The results were unique interpretations of garden benches.

"I like the idea of functional art," she says. "The idea of having people not used to being around art tripping over these unusual benches is really appealing. ... It's a treat to see their enthusiasm."

Get a look at the collection en mass when the benches return to the museum Oct. 17 to 26.

Patrons can also submit bids at the museum's Mad Hatter Birthday Bash on Oct. 18, another fundraiser. (Call 237-5210.)

For a map to bench locations, visit www.friendsoftcm.org/benchmark/.