EYE CENTER OF NORTHERN COLORADO EXHIBITION SERIES
Art of the Aloha Shirt: Keoni of Hawaii, 1938-1951
July 9 – August 15, 2021
Explore the history, artistry, and production of Hawaii’s enduring fashion statement, the Aloha Shirt. This exhibition of sixty objects, including original textile artwork, production sketches and swatches, advertisements, and vintage shirts tells the story of an early innovator, John “Keoni” Meigs, in an industry that has left an indelible mark on fashion in the United States and the world.
Although many claim authorship, the exact origin of the Aloha Shirt remains uncertain. The patterns of Polynesian tapa cloth, the colorful and bold floral designs of Tahitian pareau, and the sheer Japanese fabric used for making kimonos are often cited as some of the early stylistic influences of the shirt. Sometime in the late 1920s to the early 1930s, when Hawaii’s economy began to shift from an agricultural to a service-oriented economy and tourists started flying to Hawaii in ever-increasing numbers, the emphasis of the island clothing industry shifted from the production of work clothes to sports and casualwear. Combining the young islander’s love for colorful clothing with the tourist’s desire to bring home keepsakes of their holidays on the islands, the Aloha Shirt enjoyed massive popularity, particularly after the conclusion of the second World War.
In the history of the Aloha Shirt, there has been no more innovative merchandiser nor better self-promoter than “Keoni of Hawaii.” John “Keoni” Meigs (“Keoni” is Hawaiian for John) was a self-taught painter whose talent became known to the early shirt manufacturers in Honolulu. In 1938, he created his first designs, concentrating on Polynesian tapa patterns inspired by the originals he had studied at the local Bishop Museum. One of the most innovative Island fabric artists, Keoni is credited with creating as many as three hundred Aloha shirt designs. In Meigs’ words, “In a sense, Aloha shirts put Hawaii on the map. The first thing people did when they arrived was make a beeline for a department store to buy one. A lot of kooky things were designed, but I always tried to be a purist when it came to using motifs from Hawaiian sources.”
A Program of ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance and The National Endowment for the Arts.
Lynnette Jung-Springberg Gallery
July 9 – August 15, 2021
The PAPER BOATS Portfolio was a call for artists to create a unique print for a portfolio that would participate in future traveling installations and collaborations, including the upcoming installations in Puerto Rico and Venice Italy, two destinations well known for their specific island culture. The participating artists were asked to explore the symbolic theme of water and by extension, how water and a little paper boat, could symbolize our human interactions and relationship with water and perhaps the world. Water has historically presented an exciting subject for printmaking artists to interpret and the fragility of the folded paper boats creates another interpretation of the subject, as a symbol of resourcefulness, creativity and resilience. “Paper Boats” is a unique collaborative project presented here as both a portfolio of flat prints and a portfolio of the resulting folded “boats”. The 20 artists selected for the portfolio come from all over the United States and include one artist living on the island of Guam and an artist living in China. The Los Angeles Printmaking Society sponsored the Paper Boats Portfolio for the Southern Graphics Conference International (SGCI) and both portfolios will be participating in the 2023 conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Portfolios will be on view at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice, Italy during the Venice Biennale in May, 2022.
Florence Alfano McEwin
Mary Sherwood Brock
Mono Grafico Colectivo
Jennifer Anderson Printz