“I want to leave the Earth a better place than when I arrived,” says model-turned-environmentalist Courtney Arndt. To do so, the O‘ahu-born eco-preneur is making a positive impact through her brand and blog, CocoSirens. When she couldn’t find fashions that made her feel sexy and aligned with her values, Arndt took it upon herself to create a conscious clothing line that’s both sleek and chic. “I researched many natural materials that ancient civilizations used—I wanted to go back to our roots, back to simplicity,” she says. CocoSirens can be found online; in select boutiques; and at Six Senses Bali, a luxury resort that has implemented a series of sustainability initiatives and strives to raise awareness on being environmentally responsible (and supposedly opening in Hawai‘i come 2020). What’s more, Arndt also runs Siren’s Women Program, where she coaches and inspires women across the world to find true love, passion and purpose. “Ultimately, I want to bring as much awareness and create a positive change to us and the world we live in.”
It was a bold move—to use public art to tell stories while beautifying communities. But Jasper Wong, an artist and innovator himself, knew that in Hawai‘i, he had the ultimate canvas. So he founded POW! WOW!, the epic street-art extravaganza that welcomes local and international artists to paint the town—the abandoned building, the derelict parking garage—in vibrant murals featuring narratives from comical to those with strong social undertones. Set to return this February, POW! WOW! may be a homegrown event, seeded in part by Hawai‘i’s rich storytelling tradition, but it’s gone global, hosting satellite events as far as South Korea and Japan, with more planned in the future. Fittingly, the expressive and always colorful project has a broad, ambitious mission: “We hope this will help build bridges between people and create a worldwide collective of like-minded individuals,” says Wong.
Konrad Ng, executive director of the highly regarded Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design, (shangrilahawaii.org) is taking the world by storm: “I love to travel! New vistas—even ones that pose difficult questions about access and privilege—are key to cultivating empathy. Some recent work and work-related trips that come to mind are: Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Johannesburg, South Africa. I was in Dubai for Art Dubai—now a major art fair in the Middle East, and I visited Dubai’s emerging art districts like Alserkal Avenue. It was exciting to see and experience the cosmopolitan vibrancy of contemporary art in the Middle East and meet the artists, collectors, curators, gallerists and museum directors behind new ways of understanding the region. I was also in Johannesburg to attend the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture held on the centennial of Mandela’s birth. I was reminded of the poise, resilience and feeling of hope modeled by Mandela and others in the struggle to realize a more inclusive world during moments when that world seemed distant and impossible. And the speaker was Barack Obama; that was cool.”
Hawai‘i Island artist Terry Field may be based in the tiny upcountry town of Holualoa; however, her plein air approach to her oil on canvas paintings takes her to enchanting locations all over the island—from lush tropical forests to dreamy beaches. “My inspiration comes from the beauty I find all around me,” the formally trained artist says; her style reflects her admiration of master painters such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Lionel Walden, George Hitchcock and Jeremy Duncan. “Earlier this year, my friend and fellow Hawai‘i Island artist John Roth, up in Waimea, challenged himself to create 30 paintings in 30 days, and I decided to tag along on the journey. It forced me to make time daily for my art, whereas, until then, I would often allow real life to get in the way,” Field says. And real life for her means guiding her two children, Paloma and Luke, and managing husband/artist Mike Field’s gallery in Holualoa. Both Field and Roth will be hosting shows of the art produced during their 30-day challenge to appreciative guests at their respective hillside locations this fall.
Matt and Roxy Ortiz
Matt and Roxy Ortiz, the collaborative art duo Wooden Wave, like to think of their work this way: “If Peter Pan became a LEED-certified architect, what would he build?” The answer, then, is fun and adventurous yet highly contextualized—hand-drawn “treehouses and fantastical structures” with “solar panels, water catchment systems, aquaponics and rooftop gardens alongside halfpipe ramps, surfboards, slides and tire swings.” The work is a product of their environment—both husband and wife were raised in Hawai‘i. Following Wooden Wave’s recent exhibition at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center in Washington, D.C., is the solo show Dream & Dwell, opening Nov. 18 at Polu Gallery in Hale‘iwa; an exhibit at Kawela Gallery at Turtle Bay Resort in December; and, in 2019, a children’s book, creative projects for footwear company OluKai and much more.
“Painting is all about looking,” says visual and performing artist Hadley Nunes. “I was always looking.” And then she saw it in her early teens—“Woman I,” by Willem de Kooning, at The National Gallery, a pivotal moment for the East Coast native. “I was amazed. The connection to the rawness of paint, the openness of process—that’s at the core of what I’m still interested in today.” Brilliant with brushwork and abstraction, Nunes established a painting practice that incorporates flower arranging while working as the floral director at Paiko. She also founded the artist-residency and education project Present Project and is a participating artist in Hawai‘i’s first creative experiences app, Art World Escape, for which she hosts group flower-arranging in her studio with tea and conversation about her works-in-progress at Lana Lane Studios. Later this year, she too will escape, to France and Spain for a new project that will find her researching prehistoric caves in the Pyrenees and seeking out a seminal Picasso. “Art is just so vast,” she says.
SPHERE OF INFLUENCE
Contemporary Hawaiian artist Mark Chai’s latest sculpture—commissioned for the landmark exhibit Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai‘i at the New York Botanical Garden earlier this year—throws one for an enormous, stainless steel loop. Referencing the flowering plant that O’Keeffe featured as a subject for her series of Hawai‘i paintings, the sculpture “Heliconia Loop” contains the precision-driven presentation of Chai’s best work. On O‘ahu, that includes a sculpture made from recycled materials at Disney’s Aulani resort and dazzling lighting at hipster hotel the Surfjack. All radiate a wild imagination and the workmanship of a master craftsman. But the art of Chai is his soul: To assist the Aloha Medical Mission to Nepal in 2015, he created handcut luminaries to help fund medical supplies for volunteers.