State foundation director points to dysfunction in office

Published On: Dec 05 2013 06:40:00 PM HST

“The pressure was so strong. They just wanted me to resign,” said Eva Laird Smith.

She leaves her job as head of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts at the end of the month following an embarrassing breach of copyright. A legendary image used to brand coffee mugs and T- shirts to promoting fashion month in Hawaii was of a beloved Hawaiian hula dancer.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's story.

Laird Smith said staff was aware of the problem weeks before the exhibit, but failed to tell her.

But she says staff did however, contact the artist's son.

"There are documents to  prove there was correspondence with the heir of the photograph and they made him sign some documents, but I, as director was not made aware of it, so there was withholding of critical information," said Laird Smith.

All of the items were said to be destroyed, but they aren’t yet.

Laid Smith says there are state rules about how that is to happen.

"We have been coordinating with the comptroller's office and the AG's office it is under lock and key," said Laird Smith.

The foundation has also been under fire for insensitivity when it comes to Native Hawaiian art and artists,

We discovered a second floor exhibit mistakenly identifies former OHA trustee Kamaki Kanahele as a woman.

It also incorrectly describes what he is wearing as a Mother Hubbard muu muu.

Laird Smith says the checks and balance system in the office, obviously failed.

"You can rest assured it we will correct that, if there is an error-- this is a male-- this is a female. We will correct it right away in a respectful manner," she said.

What could prove tougher to correct might be painting over the controversy and the discord which right now are revealing the gritty side of the art world.


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