Native Hawaiian Arts and Artists on Oahu

Sponsored Content: Oahu is home to extraordinary artists inspired by the natural beauty of their islands, the ancient Hawaiian heritage, and the multicultural traditions that make this archipelago such a vibrant and diverse community. Visitors can discover the creativity of island artists and artisans at museums, galleries, events, and festivals.

At the Museums
Oahu’s museums explore ancient Hawaiian history and culture and reveal how the past resonates with today’s innovative island artists. Bishop Museum is the best place to being such an exploration. Superbly restored Hawaiian Hall showcases the values, beliefs, daily life, and cultural practices of Native Hawaiians from pre-contact time forward. Exhibits artfully incorporate ancient objects and traditions with works by modern Native Hawaiian artists. Contemporary kappa (bark cloth), umeke (wooden bowls), and ipu (gourds) are juxtaposed with those handcrafted in the 19th century. A 16-panel mural by artist Carl F. K. Pao depicts Kumulipo, a chant describing the creation of the Hawaiian universe and world. Hoohuli, To Turn Around features a mural by Meleanna Meyer and Native Hawaiian students that illustrates a chant about change as a catalyst for strength and unity. Bishop Museum’s J. M. Long Gallery will host, Nani i Ka Hala: Lau Hala Waving in Hawaii, March 7-June 29, 2015, an exhibit dedicated to traditional Hawaiian weaving with contributions from weaving kupuna (teachers/experts), weaving masters, and folk life experts. 

At Honolulu Museum of Arts, the Hawaii Gallery features everything from ancient traditional Hawaiian art to works by contemporary artists. The museum will host the biannual Artists of Hawaii 2015: Prospectus, July 2-October 2015, a showcase of the diversity and quality of art being made across the state including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, collage, sculpture, film and video, and other media. 

Hawaii State Art Museum exhibits interpret the rich artistic, cultural, and ethnic traditions of Hawaii. Ongoing exhibits include Enriched by Diversity, The Art of Hawaii, and Where We Live, Places of Hawaii. On Second Saturdays, local quilters, woodworkers, ceramicists, and other creative artists offer hands on projects. Art Lunch, the last Tuesday each month, features artists or cultural practitioners speaking about their crafts. 

Preserving and Perpetuating Hawaiian Cultural Traditions
Championing Native Hawaiian artists is the passion of Vicky Holt Takamine, a kumu hula (hula master) who launched PAI Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of Native Hawaiian cultural traditions. Every spring, PAI hosts Annual Maoli Arts Month—MAMo—a showcase for Native Hawaiian designers, painters, weavers, photographers, carvers, and other creative artists. Some artists practice traditional arts and crafts while others showcase ancient practices in innovative and inventive ways. Many are renowned and award winning experts in their areas who exhibit across Oahu, Hawaii, and around the world.  

Maoli Arts Month/MAMo Events 2014-2015

  • 11/7/14: PAI Kakaako Arts & Music Festival, Mother Waldron Park
  • 11/14-15/14: Moolelo Storytelling Festival, Honolulu Museum of Art
  • 5/1/15: First Friday, Gallery Walk, ARTS at Marks Garage
  • 5/20/15 MAMo Wearable At Show, Hawaii Theatre
  • 5/23-24/15: Native Hawaiian Arts Market, Bishop Museum 

Oahu’s Lively Gallery Scene
Island galleries spotlight works by Hawaii artists and offer workshops and classes with artists and cultural practitioners. Na Mea Hawaii/Native Books is a combination event space, bookstore, tea room, and gallery featuring Native Hawaiian art and books, Sunday morning Tea & Talk Story with artists, and weekly classes in lauhala weaving, Hawaiian language, ukulele, and jewelry-, print-, and lei-making. The ARTS at Marks Garage, a community arts center recognized for its role in transforming Downtown Honolulu/Chinatown into a major arts district, has an ongoing schedules of exhibits and events. The Gallery at Ward Center is a cooperative art gallery owned by 16 award-winning Oahu artists. Painting, printmaking, sculpture, wood, ceramics, jewelry, and fiber arts are all represented. Nohea Gallery is a family owned gallery featuring paintings, woodwork, jewelry, home textiles, ceramics, and glass objects created by artists from across the Hawaiian Islands.