It took a computer crashing and numerous car problems—including overheating, the Ma’alaea wind breaking my door and a close encounter with a taxi van—to get me to Art Night. Every Friday, Lahaina galleries offer a sort of open house for art lovers with wine, pupus and the opportunity to meet artists or witness painting “demonstrations.”
Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly bursting with joy when I finally arrived.
I started at the 900 block of Front Street, at The Quan Gallery. It was nearly empty except for Rhonda Aquino, the artist giving the demonstration, and the curator. I said hello and started to wander about the gallery. The curator said to let her know if I wanted a glass of wine.
Aquino was painting designs onto a large paper and then transferring them to a smaller one. Her surreal works were displayed in the window near her. My favorite was a dark, square image titled, “Kaleidoscope.” We talked for about 10 minutes.
She said she used cardboard and lots of tape to give it most of its texture. There was some old-fashioned labeling tape, with raised letters stating, “Be It” and “Do It.”
I love that inspirational stuff.
I also learned that Aquino is from Maui, went away to school and now resides here again.
“Is it weird to have people hovering over you while you work?” I asked.
“Well, yeah,” she said. “I’m sort of used to it. I used to paint under the Banyan Tree every weekend. There’s a lot of people watching.”
Then we both got quiet and I started feeling a little uncomfortable about silently leering at her, so I left. I figured I might make it back but in the meantime I had to check out other galleries.
As I cruised along Front Street, a life-size wax butler in front of One World Gallery intrigued me. Inside, there was all of this furniture painted with more inspirational sayings like “Everybody is a star.” There was also an attractive young gentleman eyeing me while I scribbled notes.
Walking deeper into the gallery, I was hypnotized by huge plastic cases that contained beautiful butterflies. The formation suggested they were taking off. One large circular one was made up of only metallic blue butterflies. A large square one next to it contrasted with all different types and sizes of butterflies.
At this point, the man who’d been eyeing me—and my notepad—could no longer contain his curiosity and told me so. He turned out to be the curator, Jesse, and we chatted as he wandered through the gallery with me.
He said the butterfly artist is John Jurek and the butterflies are all endangered. They are farmed in Africa, Asia and South America. When they die of natural causes, they send them to the artist. Jurek then removes all of the body parts that will eventually fall off and positions them in the cases.
I was so happy to learn the butterflies weren’t being killed just for the art.
It turns out the furniture pieces that I’d admired earlier so much are a brand called, “Lazy Susan.” Apparently, a woman started creating the pieces in Des Moines, Iowa, and they became such a hit that she hired artists to recreate the style to produce more. There were also these amazing ceiling fans. Each blade was made to look like a butterfly wing, or blades of leaves, Tiki masks and schools of fish.
Then a real customer got Jesse’s attention to make a purchase and I left.
Down the street in Kush Fine Art, I scrutinized a fish sculpture made of foreign coins. The gallery was dark, with gray walls and dark floors—even the people working there wore dark clothing. But the paintings were amazing and intriguing, all of them resembling something from a dream.
When I walked into Lahaina Galleries, I was greeted by a breathtaking painting that stands at least six feet tall. It’s of a purple road lined with tall trees covered in golden autumn leaves that are blowing in the wind and falling everywhere. And there was a glass cross with the frosted image of Jesus inside.
After I walked back onto Front Street, I considered going back to the Quan Gallery. But the demonstration was scheduled to end in 10 minutes. So I decided it was time for me to go home.
On my way back to the car, I saw the artist Kim Mosley in front of the Higgens Harte Gallery, sweeping up the debris she’d discarded earlier as she formed a sculpture with a chisel and hammer. MTW