Art on the Zoo Fence

By: Barbara Roman
Special to the
Oahu Island News

What’s long and colorful, whimsical and wild, serious and lovely, vibrant and bold, can be seen weekly in Waikiki, travels the world over and has been happening alongside the Honolulu Zoo for 50 years?

If you guessed Art on the Zoo Fence, you’re absolutely right! What started 50 years ago as a way for local artists to display their two-dimensional art and get international exposure still thrives.

Artists of all ages and styles gather weekly to display their works. Some of Hawaii’s best-known and most-loved artists began their careers “at the fence”: Hiroshi Tagami, T. K. Chan, Dana Queen, Ed Furuike, David Lee, Carol Collette, and Roy Tabora, to name a few.

Exhibiting at the fence is a great way for artists new to the island to ease into the art community. More than 35 artists and photographers gather each Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., to display their portrayal of landscapes, seascapes, flora, fauna, portraits and all things Hawaiian.

Visiting the fence is a wonderful opportunity to meet the artists whose works visitors will take home as memories of their trips to paradise. Each year visitors return, renewing the personal relationships begun on previous trips.

At a time when many gift-shop items are made overseas, the artists at the zoo fence ensure our guests can buy a memento that’s truly local and made in Hawaii.

Want to see how art is created? Artists are known to be solitary, usually creating their art alone. Perhaps that’s contributed to their mystique throughout the years. Not at the zoo fence. There, on any given day, you’ll see several artists drawing and painting. It’s fascinating to see a painting emerge before your very eyes. Watching artists work is a good way to pick up a few tips…about art and life.

Free parking for this weekly event is found along the street on Monsarrat Avenue and in the parking lots across the street. Come down and check this out! It’s too good a secret to be kept strictly for our visiting guests. Extend your time at Brunch on the Beach or come early for Sunset on the Beach. Come, enjoy Waikiki, Go Hawaii, have a Mai Tai at one of the beachside-hotel restaurants and pick up a piece of good, local art. This 50-year-old tradition is alive and well, beckoning you to see what’s new.

One of Honolulu’s best-kept secrets and treasures: Art at the Zoo Fence, every Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free parking across the street on Monsarrat Avenue.