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HIGH ART - Meet the Reigning Authority of Honolulu's Art Scene

When we talk about "influencers" in Honolulu, no conversation about the art scene would be complete without bringing into play the Andrew Rose Gallery. In short, its eponymous founder opened a gleaming white cube space on the city's busiest thoroughfare, and forever changed the way contemporary art in Hawaii is presented. 

Mr. Rose participated in the Study Hall Influencer Series at THE MODERN HONOLULU, June 24. Held in The Study, the hotel's bar, the series is an opportunity for travelers and residents to meet the personalities shaped by Hawaii's history and those shaping it's future. Mr. Rose shared what influenced him along his journey and the Hawaii Art Scene. 

The Andrew Rose Gallery is less a social gathering place and more a template to what is significant in the modern art world of Hawaii. And the journey Mr. Rose took to get there is a demonstration of serendipitous timing, a willful drive to bring younger collectors into the arts conversation and a passion for multiple forms of art.

THE MODERN HONOLULU: Tell us a little about your background prior to landing (full time) in Honolulu.
Andrew Rose: My parents honeymooned in Hawaii in the 1960s, and fell in love with O'ahu. Growing up in Los Angeles, and then earning my degree in Art History at Vassar followed by my dual MFA/MS in Art and Art History at Pratt, I always dreamed of moving to Honolulu and making a life here.
I tried Honolulu after college, but was pulled back to Manhattan for a lucky opportunity to spend two years working in the studio of Academy-Award nominated photographer Bruce Weber, who still remains influential in how I conduct my business today.
I reconnected with Weber in L.A. in 2005 when I was finally on my way back to Hawaii after graduate school, and he couldn't have been more supportive. (He was also a bit jealous, since he'd just come back from a shoot on O'ahu and nearly stayed even though it would have meant missing his film's premiere.)

TMH: Explain some of these ways, which compelled you to take the "plunge" and enter the professional art world in Honolulu. What was the draw for you?
AR: As a family our happiest times were in Hawaii. Personally,

I was drawn to the islands for their visceral intensity.

The colors are brighter, the waves are bigger, the culture more present. I felt that if I could bring a little of my professional experience to my favorite vital and invigorating place, it would be a match made in Heaven. When I decided to open my own gallery, it was because there simply wasn't any place — a standard, international contemporary art gallery that could stand side-by-side with the established ones in Artforum and Art in America — to show and sell work. So I built one.
Factor in that I can surf before or after work and get to talk about art every day in a place filled with never-ending beauty in its people and landscape, and, well...hopefully that answers your question!

TMH: Share with readers a few things that would surprise the art enthusiast en route to Hawaii regarding the art scene.
AR: First — people don't know it's a buyers' market. There are more museum-quality artworks than collectors could ever purchase here. And the "Paradise Tax" is actually inverted for the art market; meaning, you pay 25% more to live here, but artists get 75% less for their work. It’s still undiscovered country on the worldwide art sales map.
Second, the seriousness and authenticity of the efforts by artists toward their work across the islands is unprecedented. People tend to think Hawaii is filled with people drinking cocktails under coconut trees, but as anyone who lives and works here knows, Hawaii people are tough, hardworking folks who pay attention and are resourceful. You don’t survive in the most remote city on the planet by being lazy. Scratch any artist here and you’ll find a farmer, a carpenter, a philosopher, a statistician, a techie underneath. Hawaii artists are smart and skilled. Hawaii artists are world-class.

TMH: If you had three days in Honolulu, what would be your "must stop" places to view and buy art?
AR: The Hawaii State Art Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art, and Bishop Museum on O'ahu. Galleries include mine, Andrew Rose Gallery (naturally), Gallery at Ward Center and Kaka'ako pop-ups.

TMH: Give us a short list of artists to look out for that inbound people should put on their radar.
AR: The roster of talent I work with are some of the most professional and collectible across the islands. As far as local stars, I'm particularly drawn to the artists in the Hawaiian community who bridge modernity with tradition, like painter, Linda Kane, printmaker Abigal Romanchak, kapa-beater Dalani Tanahy and mixed-media artist Carl FK Pao.
When people look toward the classics and the masters who engage with the imagery of Hawaii, I like Ambrose Patterson, D. Howard Hitchcock, Charles Bartlett and Ray Jerome Baker. They only deepen their understanding of the tradition of artists in Hawaii.

TMH: Thank you for this valuable insight Andrew. We hope people take the time to stroll to the Andrew Rose Gallery at 1003 Bishop St., Ground Floor.
AR: A huge thanks to THE MODERN HONOLULU for supporting the arts and considering the Andrew Rose Gallery as an influence in Honolulu. Mahalo.