Pick It Fence

September 1, 2012 | By Natalie Tarce

Take home a painting or two from this unique art destination.

Every Saturday and Sunday, a strip of Monsarrat Avenue across from Kapi‘olani Park transforms into a colorful art district where about 20 to 25 artists put their works up on the fence next to the Honolulu Zoo. Lovely banyan trees offer a cooling canopy, making this a prime location for Art on the Zoo Fence, an ongoing exhibit in Waikiki for more than 50 years.

Organized by non-profit group Zoo Fence Artists, the organization aims to educate and encourage art appreciation as well as showcase the work of local artists. It also contributes annually to various organizations to promote arts education for children.

According to Lynn Forney, current president of the Zoo Fence Artist, the idea for this exhibit started in 1953 when local artist and Chaminade University professor Sunao Hironaka—along with other artists—formed Saturday Art Mart under the auspices of the City and County of Honolulu, Culture and the Arts. They began with only nine artists, but by the 1970s it increased to about 50 creatives. To accommodate this growing number, the City decided in 1973 to open a Sunday showing entitled Artists of O‘ahu. Eventually in 1997, both groups merged and became the Zoo Fence Artists. Some of the participating artists included renown local artists Joe Dowson, Hiroshi Tagami, David Lee, Roy Tabora and Waituck Lo.

Now on its 59th year, Art on the Zoo Fence remains a one-of-a-kind place where people can come every weekend to look at and buy art. Forney shares that part of what makes this unique is that the artists display and sell their own artwork without any intermediaries or salesperson. “Part of the charm is that the artists are here themselves, they sell their own art.”

Some of the artists have been coming here since the 1970s while newer members have been part of the group for about three to four years. All of them however, share the same enthusiasm for what they do and enjoy meeting people who come to buy or look at their art.

Art on the Zoo Fence definitely adds another dimension to Waikiki, making this neighborhood more than just a beach and shopping destination. Works here range from paintings, drawings, photographs and digital artwork, and are usually framed, matted or gallery-wrapped. Ongoing every weekend from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., visitors will find distinct pieces of art and if you’re fortunate enough, hear memorable stories from the artists that created them.

Art on the Zoo Fence
Every Saturday and Sunday
151 Kapahulu Ave. [A:12 Waikiki Map]