Show Preview | Maui Plein Air

Maui, HI
Various locations, February 17-25

Mike Carroll, Sweet Memories, oil, 12 x 16.

Mike Carroll, Sweet Memories, oil, 12 x 16.

This story was featured in the February 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Maui, the second-largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, is an artist’s haven in every sense of the word. With its ubiquitous mountain peaks, spouting waterfalls, bamboo forests, boat-
speckled harbors, and backcountry roads, the island leaves little to be desired. This month 25 top plein-air artists from the United States and beyond converge to celebrate that diversity in the annual Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational. Now in its 13th year, the nine-day affair kicks off with a paint-out at Lahaina Harbor on Saturday, February 17, at 7:30 a.m. 

The event’s coordinator, Katherine Kama‘ema‘e Smith, says the “high-caliber” invitational always includes several Hawaiian artists who bring unique, local perspectives. Artist Ronaldo Macedo, a Brazilian native who grew up in Los Angeles, CA, has resided on Maui for nearly 30 years, and he has participated in the invitational since its inception. In fact, he helped found the event, which is sponsored by the Maui Arts League. “Since losing the sugarcane industry and most of the pineapple industry, Maui has been changing very fast with development,” he says. “A lot has changed in the landscape in the last 10 years, and our paintings are recording the island each year.” Still, a great deal of wilderness remains, adds Macedo. “The air is clear, the light is crisp, and the trade winds fan the beaches daily. When I least expect it, I see something new, or something old in a new way.”

Helping to document Maui’s beauty are longtime participants from the mainland like Greg Barnes, Mary Pettis, and Randall Sexton, and this year, five artists join the group for the first time, including Suzie Baker, Jennifer Diehl, and Patrick Saunders. Typically, the group produces more than 200 paintings during the weeklong event, says Smith, who describes the plein-air creations as a “chronicle of life” on Maui. “I always say that art is a way of remembering a treasured moment, and I think that’s the appeal for collectors at this event. These talented artists have captured their memories here.”

On the relatively small island, there’s still something for every artist to paint, says Pettis. Her favorite painting locations include the sacred Iao Valley, with its “lush mountains and gushing streams,” and the coast along the West Maui Mountains. “It’s a rugged area with beautiful coves where large turtles feed and shelter,” says the Minnesota artist. “The surf can be huge, and yet, the turtles seem completely unfazed. It’s fun to watch them and listen to the crashing waves as I paint.”

Australian artist Leon Holmes, who took home Best of Show last year for his painting HEADING EAST, shares Pettis’ affection for the island’s mountains and coastline. “I also like finding something a little special that’s manmade, like a shack or a fruit stand, that says something more about the Maui culture,” he adds. “Last year I painted the old sugar refinery.” One area where Holmes is certain he’ll be painting again this year is the sparkling Honolua Bay, part of Maui’s Marine Life Conservation District.

Most activities, including a Quick Draw and a silent auction of miniature works, are open to the public. The event culminates in a ticketed art gala and sale on Friday, February 23, at 6 p.m., in the Royal Lahaina Resort Ballroom. Award-winning paintings and other fresh plein-air works remain on view through the weekend. —Kim Agricola

contact information
www.mauipleinairpainting.org

This story was featured in the February 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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