"Art speaks to our souls. It enriches and enhances our lives. Artists transform their thoughts, feelings and impressions about life into something tangible that motivates others to nurture their own creative energy. Art is also educational. It can teach viewers about a certain time, place, tradition or spiritual aspect of a culture. Art is much more than just a ‘painting’ or a ‘sculpture.’ It’s an experience that awakens all the senses."
When photo collage artist Carolyn Quan talks about her profession, her passion is obvious. She lived on Maui and Oahu for nine years, owning and operating galleries in Lahaina and Waikiki before moving to the San Francisco Bay area a year and a half ago. Like many former Hawaii residents, she has a special place in her heart for the islands.
Quan is returning next month to launch Maui Open Studios, an annual art event she has been planning for a year. She got the idea from attending similar events in San Francisco that have drawn crowds of art enthusiasts for nearly 40 years.
"It was inspiring to visit the studios of so many talented artists, see the diversity of their work and feel the excitement of the community coming together," Quan said. "I love Hawaii – I still think about it every day – and whArt up closeen I realized there was no event that promoted and encouraged its abundance of talented artists, I knew I had to make it happen."
More than 100 artists and artisans will be featured at MOS this year. They represent a wide range of media, including ceramics, photography, jewelry, textiles, painting, glasswork, digital art, basket weaving, bronze sculpture, mixed media, plein air, stone carving and printmaking.
At the opening celebration and preview exhibition, visitors will meet most of the participants and view a few examples of their work. They’ll also be able to pick up a guidebook that includes maps of the artists’ studios, a description of their medium, pictures of some of their creations and price ranges.
"This information will help people design their own self-guided tours based on the art they’re most interested in and the artists they would most like to meet," Quan said. "Although some of the artists are known nationally and internationally, many of them are talented hobbyists, emerging or early-career artists who have never shown or sold their work in a big gallery, so MOS opens the door for them to have their shot in the limelight."
Visitors can linger as long as they like at the studios – "talking story" with the artists, learning about what inspires them, viewing their pieces and making purchases on the spot. Some artists will be offering refreshments (a few who live in rural Hana will be serving just-picked produce from their organic farms), demonstrations, live entertainment and/or opportunities for guests to try their hand at painting or sculpting.
"No two experiences will be alike," Quan said. "The beauty of MOS is that the artists can create their own event within the overall event. You may watch a woodcarving demonstration in an Upcountry barn one day and someone hand-painting a surfboard on a beachfront lanai in Paia the next day. Because MOS will take place all over Maui, you can get a good feel for the different scenery and lifestyle in each community."
The unique format also rewards visitors with rare glimpses into the artists’ lives. "You’ll not only see finished pieces, you’ll see how the artists live and work," Quan said. "It’s a very personal experience that you can’t get in a gallery."
She asserts that connecting with the artists, sharing ideas and stories, learning about their creative processes and perhaps even trying those processes themselves will increase visitors’ appreciation for whatever pieces they may purchase.
"MOS will stimulate conversation and interest in the arts, teach you about innovative techniques and uses of materials, and spur you to develop your own creative potential," Quan said. "You’ll not only take home an incredible work of art, you’ll take home an incredible experience."
IF YOU GO …
Maui Open Studios
» Place: Various venues and artists’ studios throughout Maui
» Dates: First three weekends in February
» Admission: Free
» Call: 415-450-1307
» E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
» Online: www.MauiOpenStudios.com
» Guidebook: Distributed at Gallery Oceanica throughout the month
Schedule of Events
» Opening celebration and preview exhibition: 6 to 10 p.m., Maui Tropical Plantation, 1670 Honoapiilani Highway, Waikapu. With pupu, no-host bar and entertainment by harpist Tatyana, musicians/vocalists Kahu, Mika Villaren, and Kahu and Friends, with jazz musician Robbie Ray.
» West and South Maui
studios open: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
» Gallery Oceanica exhibition: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, 780 Front St., Lahaina. Meet artists featured in the exhibit during Friday Night Art Nights in Lahaina, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Feb. 11, 18 and 25, with wine and live music.
» North, Central and Upcountry Maui studios open: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
» Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center demonstrations: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 12, 2841 Baldwin Ave., Makawao. Demonstrations of ceramics (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), jewelry (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and printmaking (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Gift shop and main gallery will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
» Hana and East Maui studios open: 10 a.m.to 6 p.m.
» "It Takes More Than Talent: 20 Ways to Boost Your Career as a Fine Artist": Workshop led by Carolyn Quan, 1 to 5:30 p.m., Hui Noeau; $75 for registered MOS artists; $125 for nonregistered artists. Register at www.liveyourdreams.us.com/mentor/workshops.html. Quan also will offer one-on-one sessions on Oahu in February. Visit www.liveyourdreams.us.com for details.