Art fans


POSTED: Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thirtyninehotel, the popular multiuse art/performance/club space in Chinatown, has hit the ball out of the park again with its latest installation exhibit, “;Residential Rendition: Left Out to Dry,”; on display through June 27.

Unlike most of the work exhibited in the space, “;Residential Rendition”; is the collective brainchild of Hawaii artists. Beth Uryase, Eli Baxter and Joseph Wilson sought to work with found objects and homed in on the electric fan, exploring Hawaii's obsession with the common household item and our desire to control our environment.

“;Our goal was to collect as many fan blades as we possibly could, but there was more than we thought,”; says Wilson. “;There were a lot in Makiki, on Hau Street in Waikiki—they're plentiful in densely populated areas.”;

The artists regularly found fans in rubbish piles on the side of the road, and the sight became so common, they realized how prevalent our consumption has become.

Their response: “;We treat it as an icon,”; Wilson says. “;We made chandeliers and gardens with ornate vines. ... We glorify and fetishize the shape ... to show the mass of what we consume. It's a graveyard of sorts.”;

INDEED, THE walls of thirtyninehotel are populated with lively, eye-catching clusters and layers of blades and blade shapes in various media. Baxter's trademark rubber-tubing work makes an appearance, while Uryase hole-punched and hand-drew intricate, beautiful designs on steel scraps and paper. Wilson employed resin—“;the only store-bought item”;—to cast cut-up pieces of a gingham tablecloth into blade shapes.

“;Lots of methods were used,”; says Tricia Lagaso Goldberg, thirtyninehotel curator, scanning the room admiringly. Equally as vast are the exhibit's themes.

One fan sculpture hanging from the ceiling appears to be dripping, she points out, commenting on its surreal quality. “;Is it condensation? Is it melting?”;

Another hanging sculpture, bearing a cluster of blades and wild, tangled, rootlike wires, “;plays with the contrast of nature versus human-made objects.”;

The installation itself transforms as the sunlight moves through the space and casts various shadows from the layers of blades, colors and punctured designs. And at night, when the space becomes a club, “;the installation is lit by the disco lights. It looks like a forest canopy,”; Goldberg says.

Because of the installation's mutability, it's easy to overlook that the fans are nonetheless “;frozen in place,”; she says. “;That they've been rendered completely useless is intentional. It underscores that these are dormant objects.”;

With so much going on, “;Residential Rendition”; provides endless discovery, even for Goldberg, who was witness to the show from inception to installation.

“;It's like a garden,”; she says. “;Each time I spend time with this exhibit, I see more and more.”;

Thirtyninehotel, located on the second floor of 39 N. Hotel St., is open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. Call 599-2552.