20 for ’11 – Who Matters on Maui?
And, more essentially, who matters to Maui? As we enter a new year—full of hope and uncertainty—we thought it was a good time to ask the question. Our answer is in the following pages: twenty movers and shakers in art, food and politics who are shaping our island’s future. Some of the names will be familiar to you; others may not. But they all share one thing: the drive, skill and passion to be leaders not merely in their chosen fields, but the community at large. They matter to us, they matter to you—and they most decidedly matter to Maui.
Words by: Anu Yagi, Jen Russo, Sara Tekula & Jacob Shafer / Photos by: Sean Michael Hower, Naomi D. Sheikin, Henry Arroyo, Britney Kidd, Brendan Smith & Chris Skiles
The Public Servant
Twenty-ten was a big year for Jo Anne Johnson: she lost her husband of 30 years to complications from Parkinson’s disease, finished her fifth and final term on the County Council, was tapped by incoming Mayor Alan Arakawa to head up the County Department of Transportation—and got remarried. “I didn’t expect it,” says Johnson of the nuptials, “but it’s proof that some things really are meant to be.” Her new husband is a…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Jo Anne Johnson.
The Sound Shaman
When Kanoa Kukaua lets his voice loose, it’s a galvanized tempest. Both a multi-instrumentalist and effervescent frontman, Kanoa is the conductor of a calescent current of well-honed talent. “If I’m not feeling [music], or hearing it, or seeing it, I’m thinking about it,” he says. “It consumes me badly. I’m a fiend.” The way Kanoa expresses himself—both onstage and off—effuses a judicious candidness that is, in a word…
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The Hawaii-Cuisine Pioneer
Looking for female inspiration in the boys club that is the food and beverage industry? Look no further than Chef Bev Gannon. “I like to throw great parties,” Chef Gannon says. “And no matter what I do, I have to be be the best I can be.” It’s those two philosophies that created her current love triangle of…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Chef Bev Gannon.
The Ascendant Politician
Every politician worth his wingtips can feign humility. But coming from Maui Sen. Shan Tsutsui, it actually seems genuine. Like when we asked him how it felt to be the youngest Senate President ever, and the first from the Valley Isle, and he replied, “I honestly didn’t know until someone pointed it out.” …
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Maui Sen. Shan Tsutsui.
Chef James McDonald had a stellar year by any measure. He welcomed a new baby (number three), and won the Maui Onion Festival recipe contest with his Upcountry ravioli, a pasta tribute to Haleakala. His newest venture among five operations, Aina Gourmet Market, won awards for its …
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Chef James McDonald.
Here’s a truism more and more people are waking up to: opening night at any of Paia Tattoo Parlor’s revolving art exhibitions will transport you. Surely, you think, you’re in the belly of a big city’s burgeoning art scene. Surely this can’t be Maui. But why not? Why can’t our art scene (bludgeoned by blase beachscapes though it may be) champion chic avant garde? In their inaugural year of business, the parlor has managed to…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Leah Honma and Justin Yates.
The Restoration Revolutionary
On first impression, Dr. Art Medeiros—the visionary behind the popular “Auwahi” native habitat restoration project and technical advisor of the Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership—appears to be extremely shy, even hermit-like. He speaks softly, prefers alone-time in the forest (which he refers to as his “church”) and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.” …
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The Deep-Sea Vodka Maker
Oceans Vodka is a family-owned Maui company, but their product isn’t distilled on the Valley Isle. This is no great secret; president Shay Smith will be the first to tell you. “Yeah we get criticized by the competition because we don’t distill the spirit here, but we are making it here,” he says. Smith says two factors influence the off-island distillation…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Shay Smith.
The Outside-the-Box Educator
Hawaii’s public education system is broken. Our schools are failing, our teachers are overburdened and our keiki are falling further and further behind. Just don’t tell Susana Browne. “There are so many wonderful teachers and principals doing good work,” says Browne, director of the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Arts in Education program. “It’s frustrating to see mostly bad news reported.” Browne acknowledges there are problems…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Susana Browne.
The Dynamic Duo
“Were MOTH to meet the devil and be challenged to a duel, they would not only keep their souls but snag Satan’s too,” we wrote in a June 2010 feature. Maybe we were on to something: how, other than a deal with the devil, could this musical duo outdo itself with every concert? Taking their great metallic swoops of musical creation to ever-higher full-sensory heights, MOTH’s…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about James Bowersox and James “Cotton” Hartman.
The Health Nuts
Not many restaurants have a nutritionist at the helm, and even fewer boast a staff with Ayurvedic and macrobiotic cooking skills. But Cafe Prana Nui in Haiku is all about being different. Chef Jason Skandunas and nutritionist Jessica Quinn operate out of a little reclaimed food bus, bringing a breath of fresh, healthy air to the local dining scene. “We found the bus in Honokowai and three months later we were…
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The Filmmaker With Foresight
With Get A Job—a polished, hyper local endeavor—filmmaker Brian Kohne has done a beautiful thing for Maui movies. “About us, by us,” is how Kohne describes it. We describe it as the best Maui-made fictional film ever produced—by far. Shot entirely on the Valley Isle over 21 days, the comedy features 175 local cast members—all delightfully recognizable as…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Brian Kohne.
The Craft Brewers
Maui Brewing Company’s Garret Marrero and Melanie Oxley were very busy last year, like Maui menehune of beer. Now, the Valley Isle can boast along with them that we have the the largest craft brewery in the state. Their production facility expansions in 2010 included two 47,000-pound grain silos and a half-dozen 100-barrel fermenters, plus a few 14-barrel fermenters for experimental brews. You can stop by and sample…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Garret Marrero and Melanie Oxley.
The Community Crackerjack
“Matt Lane is relentless in his passion for Maui, an uncommon quality in young, typically transient transplants,” we wrote in a 2009 cover story spotlighting Lane’s then fifth, highly successful installment of the Lahaina Town Cleanup. “More than talk, his actions speak powerfully.” Since then, our awareness of Lane and his activism have grown. Over the last year we’ve learned that when Lane so much as casually espouses a new idea…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Matt Lane.
Where the roads within your mind bifurcate between what’s human and what’s beast, what’s male and what’s female, what’s science and what’s fiction—that’s where Ghalib El-Khalidi’s artwork exists. Darkly radiant, impossibly imaginative and endlessly fascinating, the creatures and insects he expertly creates on paper or out of polymer clay seem a peek into the mind’s eye of a god from an alternate universe. El-Khalidi—a science…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Ghalib El-Khalidi.
The Wine Master
You’re out to dinner with friends and you want to order a bottle of wine off an extensive, expensive wine list. What do you do? Ask an expert. At Merriman’s Kapalua, like many restaurants these days, you can request the sommelier. Up until recently, that sommelier was Jason “Cass” Castle. (Even if you don’t love wine, Jason’s name might be familiar; he’s penned a few wine articles that have…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Jason “Cass” Castle.
The Purveyor of Page and Stage
Scriptwriter, educator and thespian Tom Althouse has masterfully taken on many challenging roles in the local theater scene. He first stole our hearts playing The Emcee in ProArts Playhouse’s fall 2009 rendition of Cabaret. “From the velvet divide, out pops Althouse’s leather-sleeved arm—fingers writhing, beckoning come-hither, to the delighted squeals of the audience,” we wrote in our review. Currently, Althouse is acting as…
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST about Tom Althouse.