Amid easing pandemic fears, Hawaii’s triennial arts festival returns

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — The Hawaii Triennial officially opened on Friday, drawing crowds to Honolulu hotspots, including downtown sidewalks.

For the arts and culture community, it’s like coming out of hibernation.

The Triennale is billed as the largest contemporary art event in Hawaii. The most visible aspect was a digital display of flowers projected onto the front of Iolani Palace by artist Jennifer Steinkamp.

But many other places are involved, including a walking tour of the city center, intended to introduce the history and art of the region.

Tours drew groups of ten, gaining a deeper appreciation for public art, such as the marble lions at the entrance to Chinatown on Hotel Street near Bethel Street.

“People pass by every day. Sometimes people have no idea what they’re looking at,” said Brian Linares of Exhibition Grid, who was one of the tour guides.

“Of course, being a self-proclaimed art nerd, I like to share those narratives, those stories.”

Twice night walks were fully booked and they might add more tours due to demand.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other things to see and do. At the Foster Botanical Garden, artists prepared three large-scale installations over the past week.

Other sites include the Bishop Museum, Hawaii Theater Center, Hawaii State Art Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art, and the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki.

Laura Smith and other tour participants were still required to wear masks and provide proof of vaccination or a negative test. But they’re still excited just to be there.

“Oh yeah, I think that’s definitely true,” Smith said. “And I think it’s great that the Triennale has negotiated so many places where people haven’t been able to go.”

“There were all these institutions that were affected by this,” Linares said.

Places that were forced to close when the pandemic hit — like museums and art galleries — are slowly reopening.

But it’s a community party for everyone.

“I’m definitely ready,” said Adele Balderston of 88 Block Walks, another of the tour guides. “I think I have an audience of, you know, people who’ve been on my previous tours over the years and missed those kinds of experiences and they’re definitely coming out strong.”

There’s no rush to enjoy the party, as the Triennale lasts until May 8. However, some events have a limited duration, including the Iolani Palace exhibition, which ends on Friday evening.

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