Hawai‘i in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory will highlight the remarkable beauty and richness of Hawai‘i’s wild and cultivated flora, featuring plantings designed by Francisca Coelho and set pieces designed by Tony Award-winning set designer Scott Pask—a showcase of the profound importance of plants in Hawaiian culture.
The centerpiece will take the form of long borders of colorful tropical garden plants such as those Georgia O’Keeffe encountered and painted while in Hawai‘i. These borders will burst with the dazzling flowers of ti, frangipani, bougainvillea, heliconia, hibiscus, bird of paradise, ginger, and many more tropical favorites. Beyond the borders, planting beds arranged around a hale, an open-sided, thatched-roof pavilion inspired by traditional Hawaiian architecture, will tell the story of canoe plants—useful plants brought to the Islands 1,700 years ago by Polynesian settlers. Vignettes featuring native Hawaiian plants will reveal modern efforts to preserve Hawai‘i’s flora.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Works in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Art Gallery
A stunning display in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Art Gallery will offer a rare focus on Georgia O’Keeffe’s works of art created during a nine-week sojourn commissioned by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1939.
O’Keeffe’s works depicting Hawaiian subjects garnered critical and popular attention when they were exhibited at Alfred Stieglitz’s (1864–1946) An American Place gallery in 1940.The exhibition will spotlight a transformative time in the legendary artist’s life, revealing O’Keeffe’s deeply felt impressions and the enduring influence of the Islands’ rugged topography, dramatic landscapes, and exotic plants.
The paintings in this grouping, not seen together in New York since their 1940 debut, were all created in 1939 and include Heliconia, Crab’s Claw Ginger [plant depicted is actually a “lobster claw” heliconia] and Pineapple Bud (both of which were used in the Hawaiian Pineapple Company’s advertisements and which are held today in private collections); Hibiscus with Plumeria (loaned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum); and a collection of landscape paintings depicting Maui’s interior ‘Īao Valley and lava-studded shorelines (loaned by the Honolulu Museum of Art).
About O’Keeffe's Time in Hawai‘i
American modernist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) conveyed a distinct sense of place with innovative depictions of her surroundings, from stark New Mexican landscapes to abstract New York cityscapes. Her interest in depicting local landscapes through modern art techniques was grounded in an American tradition that dated to the 19th-century Hudson River School painters.
Flowers and plants were also subjects that engaged O’Keeffe consistently throughout her career, and these iconic images are celebrated for their bold use of color, form, and scale.
O’Keeffe’s time in Hawai‘i, and the work that was produced there, is less well known than her iconic New Mexico scenes, and it is not a place with which she is often associated. However, close study of the work and her correspondence during her trip reveals a deep appreciation for the beauty of the Islands and a fascination with the landscape she encountered.
This engagement with a new place—and use of her familiar compositional techniques—shows extraordinary continuity with the rest of her large body of work. O’Keeffe’s experience in Hawai‘i is representative of the significance of the Territory in the American consciousness as tourism boomed and Hawai‘i approached statehood. While O’Keeffe’s correspondence from this period reflects the perspective of a visitor who was steeped in popular perceptions of the Islands as an idealized tropical paradise, her paintings masterfully depict the Islands’ unique natural settings and serve as a compelling starting point to examine the transformation of the Hawaiian landscape through human and cultural influences.
About the Curator
Theresa Papanikolas, Ph.D., is Deputy Director of Art and Programs and Curator of European and American Art at the Honolulu Museum of Art, where she oversees the museum’s curatorial department, educational programs, Art School, library, installations team, Visitor Information Center, and permanent collection.
Since coming to the museum in 2008, she has led an innovative reinstallation of its holdings in European and American art and organized the exhibitions From Whistler to Warhol: Modernism on Paper (2010), Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawaiʻi Pictures (2013), Art Deco Hawaiʻi (2014), and Abstract Expressionism: Looking East from the Far West (2017), and she has helped position the museum as the cultural hub of one of the country’s most diverse metropolitan areas. From 2006 to 2008, Dr. Papanikolas was Wallis Annenberg Curatorial Fellow at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where she organized Doctrinal Nourishment: Art and Anarchism in the Time of James Ensor (2008) and helped plan Drawing Surrealism (2012). She has also held positions at Rice University, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. She has an expertise in 19th- and 20th-century art, and has published widely on Dada and Surrealism. She holds degrees in Art History from University of the Southern California (BA) and the University of Delaware (MA, Ph.D.), and has completed a Fellowship at the Center for Curatorial Leadership (2016).