June 17th, 2021 / posted by paularath

Love all the blues in the gallery, from glowing glass to shimmering indigo. And, oh my, is that a Mark Mitsuda martini glass? Yum!

“Fine craft is fine art.”

That’s the premise behind The DAC Gallery First Floor. It’s the brief summation of curator Barbara Rau’s philosophy, and how she chooses the everchanging art that graces the walls and pedestals of her Chinatown treasure trove.

Sanit Kewhok created these exquisite tiny figures on ice cream spoons!

“What I want is art that people don’t see anywhere else,” Rau explained. “I’m looking for unusual sculpture, art that isn’t the norm, a little more edgy.”

Rau herself has lived a life infused and surrounded by art. Like many gallery folks I have known, she has had numerous, and varied, jobs along the way. Her earliest job was with Crazy Shirts, followed by ownership of a graphic printing business in the pre-digital era. She learned a lot about Asian art during buying trips in Asia for the beloved antique shop Treasures of the East. She got on my radar when she was manager of The Contemporary Museum Gift Shop. Her unique eye for the unusual, paired with her eclectic and sophisticated taste, made the little shop my go-to for great gifts.

Can you guess what’s in those large wood frames? It’s wood shavings! Artist Bai Xin Chen creates a mesmerizing effect with these mundane materials as the light changes.

“Art is for enjoyment, pleasure and beauty, but also to make you inquire and think about it,” Rau said. She learned a great deal about art, as well as honing her personal taste, through her work with interior designer Kathy Merrill Kelley.

Kim Blackburn loves beads, and that’s what she used to create these tropical panels.

Don’t expect to find a plethora of paint, pottery or pretty flowers at the DAC Gallery First Floor. Many of the materials employed by the artists are off the wall, or they are traditional media treated in a refreshing new way.

Tell Me a Story is a gallery within the gallery that features lots of gifts for keiki.

DAC Gallery First Floor contains several small galleries, each of which features a theme. One of the galleries features textiles, and I am proud to be represented within it.

Honu Comes Home to Laniakea, textile work by Paula Rath

In addition, the work of my indigo mentor, Darius Homay, is featured in this gallery, as well as in several other rooms.

It includes gorgeous indigo shibori table runners, scarves, napkins and terrific cotton T-shirts like this one, which I already snatched up:

Photo courtesy Jerry Mayfield

This gallery is an ideal place to find a wide variety of reasonable gifts for house warmings, hostess gifts, baby showers, and of course birthdays and holidays.

In addition, it’s important to know that DAC Gallery First Floor is a nonprofit organization.

Those three canvases are from my “Sand & Sea” series, and the scarf (or table runner) is by indigo guru Darius Homay.


Betsy Robertson dressed up her denim with art.

Wouldn’t it be fun to meet a friend for Tea at 1024 or lunch at Fete (my favorite restaurant for a special meal) and shop the gallery?

Parking for DAC is simple, located right in the Chinatown Cultural Center. Enter the lot from Bethel Street. The Center occupies the block bordered by Nuuanu Avenue, King Street, Bethel Street and Hotel Street. Gallery hours are 11a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Paula Rath

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