Show Preview | Maui Plein Air

Maui, HI
Various locations, February 18-26

Greg LaRock, Roasted Reds, oil, 16 x 20.

Greg LaRock, Roasted Reds, oil, 16 x 20.

This story was featured in the February 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  February 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

The Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational, now in its 12th year, is bringing a variety of changes to the event, along with a host of new and returning painters. The weeklong event is sponsored by the Maui Arts League and has continued to grow at a rapid pace within the plein-air community.

One of the biggest changes is the move of the weekend events to the Royal Lahaina Resort, which is a premier sponsor this year. Lois Reiswig, event coordinator, says the event simply outgrew its old facility and had to find larger accommodations. Several parts of the event are held at the resort, including the Art in Your Heart Gala and Art Sale. The ticketed event, held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, February 24, allows collectors to meet participating artists and enjoy dinner, entertainment, and a live auction. Over 100 paintings are on display during the gala.

Throughout the week, artists are free to wander the island for inspiration in addition to participating in three painting events: the Kick Off Paint Out at Lahaina Harbor, the Sunset Paint Out at Montage Kapalua Bay, and the Quick Draw at Hanakao‘o Park. The 26 participating artists range in style and technique and include Hiu Lai Chong, Leon Holmes, John P. Lasater IV, Terry Miura, Jason Sacran, and event co-founder Ronaldo Macedo. 

California painter Greg LaRock has participated in the event off and on over the years and says he thoroughly enjoys the experience of painting and talking with the high caliber of artists that attend. He says the event helped him hone both his painting skills and his ability to find unique subject matter. One of those scenes is a coffee plantation. “Every year I have to go back there,” he says. “The earth there is this really rich burnt sienna color, and it’s surrounded by golden and green grasses. I really love that contrast.” LaRock says this year he is also hoping to paint the west Maui mountains as seen from the plantation.

Another returning artist is Michael Clements, who has lived on the island for 30 years and often paints subject matter around his home in upcountry Maui. He says he enjoys talking with other artists from the mainland because they see the island with fresh eyes. “Many artists that come to Maui for the first time don’t know what to expect. They don’t know that we have woods and cattle and farms—there’s such a wide assortment of materials to choose from for their subject matter,” Clements says.

Both artists are interested in seeing how subject matter will change with the closing of Maui’s last remaining sugar mill earlier this year. LaRock says that, although the structure will remain, the landscape will be much different now that crops are no longer cultivated there. “The industry played such a big role in local people’s lives, and it’s a sad passing,” Clements says. “I think everyone wants to capture that before the lights go out.”

Reiswig says the event has been a unifying force across the island and has provided important connections with artists producing high-quality work on the mainland. In addition to the Maui Arts League’s mission of fostering the art community in Hawaii, Reiswig says the organization hopes to garner enough money and support to open its own fine-art museum. “I just want everyone to welcome art into both their own and their families’ hearts,” she says. —Mackenzie McCreary

This story was featured in the February 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  February 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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