People’s Choice Award for Malama Wao Akua 2017

“Maui Manu Triptych” winner of the People’s Choice Award for Malama Wao Akua 2017. -- BRYAN BERKOWITZ photo

All votes have been counted and the results are in. The winner of the 2017 Malama Wao Akua People’s Choice Award is Maui artist Jupiter Nielsen, who is being recognized for his piece titled “Maui Manu Triptych.”

“When I first moved to Hawaii I loved all the showy tropical species of plants,” said Nielsen. “Through volunteer work and reading books, I learned of the subtle beauty of the truly Hawaiian landscape. Malama Wao Akua has been an outlet for my passion since its inception.

“Folks on Maui don’t often get to see their native forest and can think that it’s gone,” continued Nielsen. “Artists can play an important role in conservation by bringing nature to the masses. It takes all of us helping in some way whether that is working, creating, teaching or supporting financially, and this art show has accomplished that goal!”

Other award winners in 2017 include: Juror’s Choice (Tamara Sherrill, director of Maui Nui Botanical Gardens in Kahului) — “When There Were Only 22” by Gabrielle Anderman; Honorable Mention (Sherrill) — “Koa Leaf necklace” by Christine Cafferata; Juror’s Choice (Mike Takemoto, visual artist and assistant professor at University of Hawaii Maui College) — “Summer Silversword” by Joanne Hopper; Honorable Mention (Takemoto) — ” ‘Alala Within Us” by Jennifer Valenzuela; Juror’s Choice Elementary School — “Jewel of the Forest” by Olena Rodeau; Juror’s Choice Middle School — “Profile in Wisdom” — by Kaden Ortiz; Juror’s Choice Middle School — ” ‘Io lana” by Chaz Kaneakua; Juror’s Choice High School — “Flora for Fauna” by Sarah Nassar; Conservation at Work — “Higashino Hands” by Bryan Berkowitz; Rarest Find — “Maui Manu Triptych” by Jupiter Nielsen.

Malama Wao Akua will remain in the gallery at Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao through Tuesday. The gallery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Malama Wao Akua is presented in collaboration between Hui No’eau and East Maui Watershed Partnership that creatively merges the worlds of art and conservation with works of art that honor Maui Nui’s native plant and animal species. A portion of artwork sales benefit Hui No’eau and East Maui Watershed Partnership.

For more information, call the Hui No’ea at 572-6560 or visit For more information about the EMWP, call 573-6999 or visit