James Jensen

James Jensen (1950–2017)

James Jensen, curator of contemporary art at the Honolulu Museum of Art, died last week, according to a report by Nina Wu in the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in art history and a master’s in arts administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jensen moved to Hawaii in 1976 to work as the administrative assistant to the then-director of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Jim Foster. From there he became the museum’s publications editor, then assistant curator, and eventually curator of Western art. In 1991, he became associate director and chief curator at the newly established Contemporary Museum, Honolulu. When the two museums merged as the Honolulu Museum of Art in 2011, Jensen was named curator of contemporary art.

His work included curating exhibitions such as “Serious Fun: Thurston Twigg-Smith and Contemporary Art,” “Courage and Strength: Portraits of Those Who Have Served,” and “Decisive Moments: Photographs from the Collection of Cherye R. and James F. Pierce.” He also worked with many local artists, including Diane KW Chen, Wendy Kawabata, John Koga, Kapulani Landgraf, Deborah G. Nehmad, Maya Lea Portner, and Paul Pfeiffer.