I think Steve Sundram is stalking me.
When my mum visited, I took her to see Ulalena in Lahaina. She loved it so much that she bought one of local artist Steve Sundram’s amazing prints in the lobby. At the tail end of her vacation, we went shopping for souvenirs. After, she noticed that Sundram had also painted the images on many of the things she had bought to take home.
Then last week, at my friend’s vow renewal ceremony, I was introduced to a healthy, handsome man. It turned out to be Sundram.
Sundram’s zen-like home has an easel set up on the front porch. Next to it is a rainbow of paint tubes. On the other side is a bench press loaded down with weights. Not that he lifts weights while painting.
“It makes my hands shake,” Sundrum said. “Whatever isn’t working on the painting, I let out on the punch bag in the yard.”
So much for preconceived notions of an artist covered in paint, living in bohemian chaos and sustained by absinth and tobacco. Originally from Australia, Sundrum–a self-taught artist–left home at 15 to travel the world. He first visited Maui in 1990. Like many artists, he fell in love with the island.
Sundram’s canvases hang in every room of his airy home. He’s experimented with many styles of painting. “Part of being creative is to challenge yourself,” he said.
Sundram has been described as one of the most diversely talented artists in the world, turning his brush to impressionistic, Renaissance, abstract and portraits. In 1988, he was commissioned to paint Kim Basinger’s portrait; the painting hangs today in her Los Angeles office. According to Vogue, portraiture is once again in fashion and I’m getting fanciful notions about having one done.
It was after seeing Ulalena that Sundram saw how, “people were coming out all jazzed-up.” He wanted to offer them something for them to take home, but do something more thoughtful than print a T-shirt. So he called Dennis Preussler, the Ulalena manager, who was looking for an artist. Preussler allowed Sundram access to film and photographs of the show as well as the cast.
“Steve’s paintings truly capture the depth of Hawaiian history and culture in addition to the excellence of Ulalena,” Preussler said.
Sundram’s current project is called “Myths of the Seven Seas.” It’s inspired by his love of the movie trilogy Pirates of the Caribbean. “I loved the imagination and the blend of fantasy and realism, which is how I endeavor to paint,” he said. “I love including the ships from that century. They have such character.”
“Myths of the Seven Seas” will also feature a mini movie, complete with a sound track and text about the mythology behind each painting. Each one transports the viewer into a world of pirate ships, high seas and adventure.
Before leaving his home, Sundrum opened a door to a room filled floor to ceiling with merchandise, all bearing his handy work. “Do you like puzzles?” he asked.
Christmas shopping will be a snap this year. MTW