Hand-painted tiles will honor veterans

HANAPEPE n A vision that started over a year ago is rapidly reaching fruition.

Lawrence Schlang, vice president of the Kaua‘i Vietnam Veterans Research Organization, had a dream of filling the void on the walls of the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery with a tribute to veterans of all wars.

That dream was encouraged by Carol Yotsuda who put the word out to artists from the Garden Island Arts Council and the Kaua‘i Society of Artists.

Art advocate Joanna Carolan picked up on the idea.

“Why not?” Carolan wondered. “The veterans cemetery is in Hanapepe, we’re in Hanapepe where there are a lot of artists, and we are supportive of the arts.”

Carolan changed the vision from a painting, to a tiled mosaic that in its final form will measure 14 feet high by 10 feet wide.

“During archaeological digs, what is the most prevalent thing they find? It’s glazed ceramic pieces,” Carolan said. “The weather in Hanapepe where we have so much sun is perfect for mosaic tiles. It was the perfect medium.”

Paintings will fade over time, and coupled with the dry heat in Hanapepe, that process could accelerate the need for maintenance, Carolan explained. “But, with glazed tiles, there is none of that.”

“The mural, in its final form, will consist of 560 six-inch tiles, all hand painted by the artists here at the studio,” said Jana Viles, production manager of the Banana Patch Studio, and one of the artists involved in the project, in an e-mail. “The design is one Joanna did at the request of the Kaua‘i Vietnam Veterans Organization who have been repainting and refurbishing the pavilion at the cemetery.”

“We have allocated one-third of our working space to the painting of this mural which is valued at $25,000,” Viles said. “This is our donation to the community.”

“Right now, we’re working on it every day between other jobs,” Carolan said.

The completed tiles have all been numbered and packed away for delivery once the mural is completed, Carolan explained. “There are numbers on the front and back of each tile, and a rendering showing where each numbered tile is placed will go along with the project,” she said.

The installation, which Carolan estimates will take three or four days, will be done by a professional tile setter who was contracted by the veterans organization.

“Every one here at Banana Patch has had an opportunity to work on this project,” Carolan said. “I’ve never served in the military, I don’t have kids who will serve in the military, so we thought this was just one way we could say thank you to all the soldiers, their wives and families. A lot of them put their lives on the line, so we really wanted to do this for all those who give through their service with the armed services.”

Viles said that the project should be ready for the kilns some time next week, and everything should be in place for the unveiling which will take place Monday, May 29 at 10 a.m. at the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery.

This unveiling precedes the Annual Memorial Day Service that is coordinated by the Kaua‘i Veterans Council.

“We hope that people will come to see it after it’s installed,” Viles said.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) and dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com


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