The Curtis Wilson Cost Gallery is located on the verdant slopes of Haleakalā, the inspiration for Mr. Cost's 4 decade and counting artistic career. Though the physical gallery at the Kula Lodge closed after 35 years in May 2020, our gallery operation continues robustly online, with visits to Mr. Cost's studio showroom to be offered when it is again safe to travel.
A humble beginning
The story begins in 1971 when Jill & Curtis Cost were both teenagers on O’ahu working in a Natural Foods Store in Kaimukī. Curtis was the carrot juicer. Jill was a cashier. Jill called Curtis after work one day and asked him how many carrots make a cup of carrot juice. They’ve been together ever since.
In 1973, just a few years into dating, Jill and Curtis took a 8 month trip to Carmel, CA, the home of Curtis’ father, renowned landscape artist James Peter Cost. During that time, Curtis watched his dad paint, while Jill learned about running businesses by working in a few boutiques and by observing BettyJo Cost, James Peter Cost’s wife who ran his gallery. While in Carmel, Jill met Tissa Eddy, and Tissa taught Jill how to batik. This trip set the set the stage for their lives ahead.
By the end of 1973, Jill and Curtis moved to Maui and got married in a horse pasture with about 10 people in attendance. The scene looked a lot like Curtis’ future upcountry paintings. They started off living in a van and camping all around the island. Curtis painted the scenery and Jill cooked the meals.
Eventually they were able to exchange their van life for a renting a cottage from a kind woman named Mrs. Youlin in Kula. During their 11 years in that cottage, Jill batiked fabric and sewed handmade wares that she sold around the island through her one-woman business Kula Batiks, while Curtis’ painting career grew and grew. Jill was running the business from the start, and eventually she put her batik business to rest to administrate Curtis’ art sales full time.
In 1984, Curtis and Jill bought a piece of rugged horse pasture, just a few bends up the road from Mrs. Youlin’s cottage. They embarked on a new journey of building the house where they still live today, meanwhile converting the owner’s quarters of the Kula Lodge into the Curtis Wilson Cost Gallery, which they opened in 1985. Over the years, Curtis became an internationally collected artist, with visitors flocking from all over the world to the gallery. Jill ran the business at first as the sales agent and then as the president and manager of all operations. They joke that Curtis still makes the products and Jill still sells them, just like they did as carrot juicer and cashier when they were kids on O’ahu.
Curtis and Jill’s two children, Julia Allisson Cost (born 1987) and Elliott Wilson Cost (born 1991) grew up completely immersed in the family business, living in a home overflowing with so many art supplies that Jill would joke that the kids were confused if they couldn’t find some supply they needed for their infinite projects. The family was constantly trekking around the island on subject matter hunts, brainstorming marketing ideas, and critiquing paintings over dinners. Unsurprisingly, Julia and Elliott both grew up to be professional artists.
In 2020, as the world shifted drastically, Curtis, Jill, Julia and Elliott pivoted the Curtis Wilson Cost Gallery to an online gallery. The family moved out of the Kula Lodge in June 2020 and Julia and Elliott built new websites and online marketing to continue reaching the gallery’s wonderful, loyal clientele even though they cannot travel here for the time being.
A Family of Artists
Curtis Wilson Cost
Curtis Wilson Cost's original paintings and reproductions of the Hawai'i are some of the most sought-after in the world. He began his art career in the 1970s, and opened the Curtis Wilson Cost Gallery at the Kula Lodge with his wife Jill Cost in 1985. Mr. Cost continues to paint multiple new works a year and has the longest running one-man gallery in the state of Hawai'i.
"My work is about place and timelessness. I have lived in Hawai'i most of my life, and over the decades, my paintings have become an archive of the islands as they have grown, preserving them through renderings of the way they once were, and the way they remain underneath the surface of change."- CWC
Jill Ann Radner Cost
Jill Ann Radner Cost is the powerhouse behind the Curtis Wilson Cost Gallery. She has been leading and managing the business behind the scenes since the inception Mr. Cost’s painting career. She is a talented sewist and fabric designer and had her own one-woman business called Kulia Batiks before she and Mr. Cost built their fine art gallery together in the early 1980s.
Julia Allisson Cost
Julia Allisson Cost is Curtis and Jill's daughter. She has been painting professionally since 2005. She is also a sewist, textile designer, and dancer. Some of her paintings are available through the Curtis Wilson Cost Gallery.
Elliott is Curtis and Jill's son. He is a web designer and artist living in Brooklyn. Growing up in a deeply creative family has shaped how he looks at the world. Cool fact: Elliott designed and built this very website.