A heart for art


POSTED: Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Timothy Choy illustrates that fine art extends beyond the canvas, its spark generated by more than visions of color and line.

Choy's artistry is displayed in his unwavering dedication to the arts in Hawaii. He worked his magic earlier this year, raising some $25,000 within 10 days to sustain the Contemporary Museum's spring programs, imperiled when the stock market crash gutted funding.

“;He's incredibly generous, and he got on the phone and asked people to join him,”; says arts advocate Charlie Aldinger, who has worked at every major museum in Honolulu, including TCM, the Honolulu Academy of Arts and Bishop Museum. Choy “;steps in where he's needed, and he makes a difference.”;

In years past, Choy served as assistant to such museum heads as retired academy Director George Ellis and former Bishop Museum President Bill Brown. Choy is credited with strategic planning of the academy's $30 million renovation of its Asian and Western galleries and the $14 million renovation of Bishop Museum's Hawaiian Hall.

He also instituted awards and endowments all over Honolulu and on the mainland, in the names of numerous family and friends, to help Hawaii students and artists. Plus, he donated his own jade collection to the academy, where it is displayed in the museum's Asian gallery.

Yet Choy's biggest gift to the community, says friend after friend, is his ability to bring people together for the good of the arts.

When Brown was new to Hawaii, Choy introduced him to all the movers and shakers of the Honolulu scene, providing him access to those who could support his efforts for Hawaiian Hall. This is classic Choy, Aldinger says.

“;He's a matchmaker of institutions with people, and the community benefits as a whole,”; says Sharon Twigg-Smith, wife of Thurston Twigg-Smith, a TCM founder.

“;He's not shy about calling people to their duty,”; Aldinger adds. “;He asks them to step up to the plate and make a difference.”;

One way Choy continues his “;tireless”; efforts is in hosting weekly dinners at his home, Sharon Twigg-Smith says.

“;I've met scores of people at his dinners, and it's always a delight.”;

“;If it hadn't been for him and all his chocolate mousses, I don't know,”; Aldinger says. “;He's a gourmet cook and he entertains (in high style). There are always place mats, party favors, nameplates, crystal.”;

Ellis got to know Choy as a collector of art when he came home during summers from Minnesota, where he taught at Moorhead State University as a communications professor and served as assistant to the school's president.

When Choy wanted to come home, Ellis hired him to serve as his assistant.

“;He was certainly too qualified, but ... this was indicative of Tim's interest in the arts. He was not in the game for the money, God knows. He did a heck of a job,”; Ellis recalls.

“;What I like about him is he quietly goes about it all,”; says Rose Anne Jones, executive director of Hawaii Craftsmen. The organization has benefited from several awards and scholarships Choy created for its annual juried exhibition and annual Raku Hoolaulea event.

“;He's totally under the radar,”; Aldinger says. “;He doesn't expect to be patted on the back. When it's time for accolades to be given, the George Ellises and Bill Browns are in the spotlight.”;

“;Tim is interested in doing good, and he does doing good very well,”; Ellis says.

“;He's made a huge difference on many different levels,”; Aldinger agrees.