The Festival of Pacific Arts has come and gone, but the Guam Museum, a concrete wonder of sling stone and steal, will stand for many years to come. Nestled strategically between Chamorro Village and Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica, the building bridges the shoreline and innards of the capital city, and gives a great excuse to park far and walk.
In its first week of life, the museum hosted dozen of films and dances from local and visiting festival delegates. Inside, three exhibition halls packed in paintings, carvings, weavings, sculptures, videos, and photos reflecting commonalities – the beauty of our beaches and our fear of being forgotten – and our distinct differences – for the tide that forms tradition beats a little differently against each shore.
From the Solomon Islands Nelson Horipua brought to Guam a dozen paintings depicting the complexity of legends, old and new. In “Mind of Determination,” he recalls how the laziest boy in the village entered a fishing contest to win the marriage of the chief’s daughter. With determination and the help of the gods, he proves to be much more than useless. The characters of this story are woven together into a surrealistic and symbolic wave. Try to figure out the riddle before you read the artist’s key. In “Food Security,” Horipua brings to the foreground one of the greatest issues threatening life in the Pacific – climate change. With a keen aesthetic balanced between old and new, Horipua’s fables will ring true throughout the blue continent.
How often does Guam have a renaissance-trained artist turn his eye on her history? Guam transplant and Japanese painter, Yasunori Sakakibara, returned to Guam with his “Warrior of Guam” finally complete. Both a love letter to Guam and a tapestry of her history, this painting is worthy of a museum and must be explored in person.
In a single sculpture, Rebecca Rae Davis confronts the reality of Apra Harbor’s marine life. “Bondage of Guam” depicts a small reef, wrapped in a chain with a gift tag: Property of U.S. Government. A minimalist artist, with impact in every stroke, Davis reflects in “Contact” the somewhat miraculous, almost heavenly way history books depict the moment the military entered Guam: like a golden anchor descending from the sky. On brown parchment paper, with a package of colored pencils Davis confronts the reality others would rather hide behind their palm trees.
It’s easy to fall in love with an island for its tropical beauty, and the museum has no shortage of breathtaking beach scenes. Lindsay Kane, on the other hand, followed a strange vision and drew her own “Jungle” as if made from hands. Instead of breadfruit, palm leaves, and sword grass, she drew fingers and fists holding those shapes – from far away you couldn’t tell the difference. Up close the scene springs into a strange and frightening daydream. But hey, if you thought the banana leaves were that sensitive, wouldn’t you watch your step?