Denver Art Museum’s Rory Padeken will co-curate reinstallation of Arts of Hawai‘i Gallery, opening April 2023

Last year, the museum briefly closed its John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery of the Arts of Hawai‘i to reconfigure the space. Now, this spring, Rory Padeken, Denver Art Museum’s Vicki and Kent Logan Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art—and Kahalu‘u native– joins HoMA’s Curator of Textiles and Historic Arts of Hawai‘i Tory Laitila in co-curating the gallery.

The gallery will reopen in April 2023 featuring works from HoMA’s permanent collection as well as loans covering a variety of media. The installation will reflect the ever-changing geological, political, cultural, and social landscapes of Hawai‘i, amplifying some of the diverse stories and cultural identities of individuals who call the Islands home.

Padeken has a strong track record of expanding the narratives of contemporary art by advocating for artists and examining present-day social issues through an inclusive lens. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to return home to collaborate on this project with HoMA. There is a wealth of artistic talent in Hawai‘i,” said Padeken. “I look forward to connecting those artists’ stories with the community, on both a local and national level, to shine a light on the diverse perspectives that shape this archipelago of islands in the middle of the Pacific.”

“This reinstallation of Arts of Hawai‘i at HoMA will show the broadness of the ethnicities of the people and the artists represented, including Native Hawaiian artists and those who worked, lived or were born in Hawaiʻi,” says Laitila, who is of Chamorro heritage.

Catherine Whitney, HoMA’s Director of Curatorial Affairs, says the aim of the reinstallation is to spark conversation rather than to authoritatively define past histories, so it was important for the curatorial team to approach the project with a collaborative spirt.

“The Arts of Hawai‘i installation celebrates a range of interpretations and experiences of Kānaka Maoli and Hawai‘i-based artists,” says Whitney. “I look forward to seeing the results of Rory and Tory’s thoughtful collaboration showcasing important art ranging from traditional Hawaiian art forms to 21st-century contemporary works.”

Born and raised in Hawai‘i, Padeken joined the Denver Art Museum in 2022. Before that he held curatorial roles at the San José Museum of Art (SJMA) from 2011 to 2022. He also served as the Achenbach Graphic Arts Council Fellow at the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Left: Rory Padeken
Right: Ka-Ning Fong. Red Corner, 2001. Oil on canvas. Gift of Charlotte and Henry B. Clark, Jr., 2001 (9524.1)