Maui Connections

As Hawaiian cultural practitioners went to Haleakala to “assist the mountain” in the wake of the governmental shutdown trashing national parks across the country, and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard threw her hat into the presidential ring, last week’s news brought reminders that Hawaiian wisdom and values have much to offer beyond our shores.

True, palm trees and beaches are the islands’ calling cards, and the stuff tourist fantasies are made of.

But it’s the brushes with the islands’ people — whether descendants of the first Polynesian voyagers, or the multiethnic immigrants who worked the plantations, or the more recent arrivals responding to the ocean’s call — that leave deeper, soul-stirring and life-changing impressions.

Like a superhero’s cape, calling Maui your home comes with feelings of gratitude and responsibility. Often this results in acts of creation — not driven by ego, but by the sense of wanting to give something back.

Paul Janes-Brown emails to report on “an extraordinary opening” last Thursday at Viewpoints Gallery in Makawao, where the new exhibit, “Reaching Out,” began with a 45-minute video overview.

“Seven of Maui’s finest artists were asked to collaborate with family members or friends to create joint works of art and the results are astounding,” writes Paul. “Impressionist and cartoonist George Allan worked with his videographer stepdaughter and son-in-law, Lisa Fitkin and Andrew Wright, along with his contractor stepson, Brad Fitkin, to create an animated koi pond with lily pads painted onto the surface as a living frame. George, ever the jokester, put a self-portrait riding a koi fish that gives one a giggle if you watch it long enough.

“Raybella, the revolutionary painting couple of Ray and Gabriella Moline, worked with poet Wide Garcia to unearth Pilahi Paki’s 1986 Aloha Spirit Law and created two pieces meant to inform and spread aloha throughout the world. Gabrielle Anderman worked with her daughter Sabine, who is 8. The artist did a takeoff on a piece she did while pregnant with Sabine to show what she has become. Anderman is the living example of Picasso’s ambition, ‘I spent my whole life learning to draw like a child.’

“Fiber artist Chenta Laury found her inspiration from Dr. Art Medeiros and his passion for native flora. Terry Lopez worked with Maui architect Peter Niess exploring C.W. Dickey’s design elements. Cudra Clover explored the Tao with Malik Cotter, and Joelle C. worked with her 14-year-old musician goddaughter Leane Chicheportiche and a Rhode Island School of Design student, the daughter of a friend.”

On another subject, Paul adds, “Cynthia Clark, founder of Chameleon Talent, and stalwart member of the Kihei-Wailea Rotary Club, is in her final days at Hospice Maui. But like her life, filled with wonderful people, her passing is being accompanied by a parade of family and friends stopping by the beautiful Hospice Maui Hale in Wailuku to share stories and lots of laughs. She will be missed.”

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On Friday, sources tell me the artists’ reception at Hui No’eau’s 2019 Annual Exhibition was buzzing with excitement, as artists and art lovers alike enjoyed the wonderful selection of paintings, sculpture, jewelry, photography and mixed media. The evening began with a moving oli (chant) and ancient hula by the young dancers of Halau Ke’ala Kahinano O Puna. The keiki gave the audience chicken skin with their powerful, synchronized and strong performances. They were followed by beautiful young women dancing modern hula as the sun began setting over the Hui’s parklike grounds.

Inside the gallery the two jurors — nationally recognized, award-winning artist Ed Lane and retired University of Hawaii Maui College associate professor of art Jennifer Owen — spoke about the art before presenting the Juror’s Choice awards. Ed chose artist Jeanne Young’s oil painting, “Passion,” elaborately framed and whimsical in its beauty. Jennifer’s choice was a free-form wood sculpture fittingly titled “Hula,” by Peter Voci.

Enjoying the scene were Sookie Kunst, Eddie Flotte, Larry Feinberg, Judy Bisgard, Diane Lane, Patty Chaney, Lynne Bear, Linda Schoen, Becky and Tori Speere and longtime Maui residents back for a visit, Julie Frank and her daughter Dana Hasset. Stay tuned for Art Affair 2019: Yoyoi Kusama, on Feb. 23. (Hint: She is a Japanese artist obsessed with dots, color and creation.)

According to Larry Feinberg, who left the Hui to see “It’s Only A Play” at the ProArts Theater in Kihei on opening night, the nearly sold-out show is a hit! Written by Terrance McNally and directed by the very talented Francis Taua, the audience included many of Maui’s most notable actors, theater angels and supporters: Dale Button, Ally Shore, Lisa Teichner, Gina Duncan, Todd Van Amberg, Kalani Whitford, Carolyn Coudert and Leslie Mackenzie Smith.

* Rick Chatenever, award-winning columnist and former entertainment and features editor of The Maui News, is a freelance journalist and documentary scriptwriter/producer. Contact him at