By Dance Aoki

The artwork included in the eighth Guam Art Exhibit, lovingly known as GAX, is just as vibrant, energetic and colorful as in previous years. Now on display at the Agana Shopping Center, the show promotes the continuing mission of the art show series, to highlight innovative, creative local talent. This year, the mission distilled to its purest form through an intimate theme: The Portrait. 

Photographs, paintings and illustrations of captivating faces and slices of life captured both in Guam and in other countries hung on white gallery walls beside pop art interpretations of famous icons reimagined by new, young artists.

Artists and art-lovers of all ages came to the opening night event held on Aug. 13 to get in on the excitement. The Agana Shopping Centers second floor gallery was full to the brim with the islands arts community, creating a hive of colorful, busy characters. The large crowd spilled in and out of the gallery, buzzing with excitement after viewing the art hung along the walls of the gallery.


While the artists featured in the show came from all backgrounds and all ages, the momentum behind the popularity of GAX was fueled by a young, social media-savvy audience. The youthful spectators came together to soak in the energy leaping off the canvases in the form of color and ideas. To commemorate the occasion, friends grouped together for photobooth pictures, donning masks and waving speech bubbles.

Next to the photobooth, the question What inspires you?was written at the center of a large white wall, where art lovers doodled illustrations of trees and silly monsters. Messages were written in different languages, including Korean and Chamorro. One person responded in big blue cursive letters with barbeque.


Portraiture has been used throughout the history to represent an individual that the artist may have been acquainted with, and to reveal something about who the person is, through the portrayal of their emotion or some other aspect of their personality. A portrait should not only portray the subjects features, it should also offer a sense of the persons presence. In Guam, portraits are infused with a cultural and personal perspective. 

A graphic portrait of a Chamorro chief, Magalahi Gamson, was enhanced by digital technology. Lift up a smartphone to the canvas and the image comes to life on the screen. Images of mermaids and other archetypes of island women popped onto canvases with technicolored hair full of sea creatures or flowers. A sculpture of a mysterious figure wearing a mask, locks and chains towered over the spectators as they gazed up into frozen face. 

GAX is open at the second floor gallery space of the Agana Shopping Center 6pm to 10pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 10pm on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays until September 7, 2015.