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The art of fun

Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center caters to the idea that everyone is artistic

By Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi


In the 77 years since it was founded, Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center has ignited the creative spirit of thousands of budding artists who've run the gamut in age from toddlers to retirees. Popularly known as "the Hui," this nonprofit arts education organization welcomes anyone with an interest in the visual arts to its classes, lectures, workshops, exhibits, tours, open studios and special events, which are held year-round. Fittingly, "hui noeau" translates as "people coming together for the development of artistic skill."

"There's no such thing as an unartistic person," said Kelly McHugh, the Hui's youth programs and marketing manager. "Art is an expression, an extension, of who you are. You don't have to be van Gogh to experiment and have fun with colors, lines, shapes and materials."

The Hui is headquartered at Kaluanui, a 25-acre estate that renowned architect C.W. Dickey designed for entrepreneur Harry Baldwin and his wife Ethel in Upcountry Maui. More than 70 varieties of plants, flowers and trees flourish in its impeccably manicured gardens. Magnificent views encompass Haleakala volcano, the West Maui Mountains and Maui's north shore. The centerpiece of the property is an elegant 12-room Mediterranean-style mansion built in 1917.


Hui Noeau's 19th annual fundraiser benefits youth programs that provide visual arts education, hands-on instruction by artists and opportunities to work in professional studio spaces:

» When: 5 to 10 p.m. Feb. 26

» Where: Kaluanui estate, Makawao, Maui

» Featuring: Dinner, music, dancing, live and silent auctions

» Cost: Tickets start at $175


Ethel and her daughter, Frances Baldwin Cameron, started Hui Noeau in 1934 as a working group of 20 artists who initially met at Kaluanui. Harry died in 1946. Four years later Ethel sold Kaluanui to Maui Pineapple Co., the predecessor of Maui Land & Pineapple Co. In 1976 Frances' son, Colin Cameron, who was then president of Maui Land & Pine, agreed to lease Kaluanui to the Hui for $1 per year.

Over the ensuing years, Kaluanui's stables were transformed into a ceramics studio, the garage into a printmaking studio and the dairy into Maui's only public darkroom. The former den houses became the Hui2 Gallery Shop, which is filled with original creations by the Hui's member artists.

Unveiled last July in Harry's former home office, the Kaluanui History Room displays family photographs, Ethel's beautiful handcrafted silver hollowware, and minutes from board meetings and other original documents dating back to the Hui's beginnings.

With support from the community, the Hui purchased Kaluanui for $5 million in 2005. It mounts eight annual exhibitions that often include related components such as free lectures, panel discussions and field trips.

"This is not just a place to look at art; it's a place to create art and learn about it," McHugh said. "We've hired professional artists from throughout Hawaii, the mainland and as far away as Japan and New Zealand to give lectures and to teach classes."

Topics run the gamut from painting, drawing and jewelry design to photography, ceramics and textiles. Although some classes run over the course of one or two months, weekend sessions are available to accommodate visitors.

"The Hui builds bridges between art and culture, Hawaii as a tourist destination and Hawaii as a community, and seeing art and experiencing it," McHugh said. "Even if visitors' schedules don't allow them to take a class, they can walk into our studios, meet artists at work, get a firsthand look at their processes and chat about what inspires them. Making personal connections are always the highlights of my travels, and, along with wonderful art, that's what we hope visitors will enjoy when they visit the Hui."

Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based freelance writer whose travel features for the Star-Advertiser have won multiple Society of American Travel Writers awards.



» Address: 2841 Baldwin Ave., Makawao, Maui
» Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday
» Information: Call 572-6560, e-mail or visit the website,
» Self-guided tour: Free, during regular hours. Read about the history of the center, view exhibits and studios, stroll the property. Feel free to bring a picnic lunch.
» Guided tours: Two-hour tours include a hands-on art project. Available to groups of at least seven, from 10 a.m. to noon during regular hours. Prices start at $7 per person. Reservations should be made at least two months in advance.
» Membership: Annual dues start at $45; benefits include a subscription to a quarterly newsletter, 20 percent discount on class fees and 10 percent discount on shop purchases. Tax-deductible donations welcome.


Highlights from the 2011 calendar (check the website for details and updates):

» Annual juried exhibition: Through Thursday
» "The Importance of Building a Strong Web Presence for Artists": Free lecture by visiting artist Kathleen Alexander, 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday
» "Painting Fabulous Tropical Flowers in Watercolor": Led by Kathleen Alexander, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and next Sunday
» "Art & Aloha: Basket Weaving from Nature for Beginners": Led by visiting artist Mavis Muller, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 5
» "Waltzing with Time and Place: A Retrospective" exhibit: Featuring work by Maui resident Darrell Orwig, March 12 to April 22
» "Silver Clay Explorations" workshop: Led by Gordon K. Uyehara, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 12
» "Silver Clay Pearl Ring" workshop: Led by Gordon K. Uyehara, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 13
» Camp Kaluanui: Daily and weekly sessions for ages 5-12, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 14 to April 1
» Student Salon 2011: Exhibit of works by students in hui classes and workshops, April 29 to June 10
» Solo Exhibition 2011: June 17 to July 23
» Family Day: A Community Celebration of the Arts: July 30; also opening day for a youth arts exhibit, which runs through Aug. 13.
» "Visualizing Sustainability" exhibition: Aug. 27 to Oct. 8
» Wailea Food & Wine Celebration: A benefit usually scheduled for the third Friday in November
» Hui Holidays Exhibition: Nov. 21 to Dec. 24


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