Braided Kiawes, 2008
There is a difference between the way we experience a place and the actual place itself. I paint what I experience, not necessarily what a camera sees. This accounts for why, as is often said, that art is a self portrait of its creator. This piece is no exception. I've spent over three decades painting Makena. Over the years, Ahihi has gone from a sleepy out-back swimming hole to a tourist destination.
In the early 70's, the kiawe trees allowed a wider view of the cove to those approaching from the east. The late afternoon sunlight cast shadows across the road. I've painted this view before in Makena Tide Pools and Makena Kiawes, shown above. This time around, I will paint the wider view as we once experienced it, peacefully undiscovered.
I have many wonderful memories of Ahihi Cove in my thirty five years here. While that isn't such a very long time, it certainly is in terms of what has taken place in Makena. It's not just the road being paved or the presence of more people. It's the fact that Maui itself has undergone a sea change. Where it was once a Hawaiian backwater, it is now a world-renowned visitor destination. We've always known we were in a special place and we knew the world would find it sooner or later, yet aside from all the advances in name recognition, the essence remains. Watch the water for more than a few moments and it begins to whisper stories. The ripples chatter with the breeze about all the millions of days that have come and gone just like this one, and all the other passing souls who stopped long enough to listen. And the strangest thing is that you come away with a greater sense of time, where what really matters is not nearly as small as our brief lives here. We come and go like passing weather, an era here, a culture there. In the greater scheme of things, we're just another cloudscape to the amused indifference of Makena. These are the stories I try to paint: stories whispered in my ear as I've eavesdropped on the affable breezes rippling through Ahihi.