Where art and orchids come together

One of nature’s great works of art — the orchid — is pairing up with Kaua‘i’s working artists to produce the 1st annual Orchid Art show and festival in the town of Hanapepe.

A partnership between the Hanapepe Economic Alliance and The Garden Island Orchid Society is making this innovative cultural and agricultural event happen next weekend. “We are very much hoping to make this an annual event and really excited that The Garden Island Orchid Society is willing to partner with us,” said Joanna Carolan, artist and one of the key organizers for of the event.

“Orchids have been grown in Hanapepe since the mid-century, and of course we have the history of rice and taro here … the arts are the real newcomer and flourishing at this time. Orchids are wonderful to paint and when we tried to think of what showcases what our town is about today, this festival came to mind,” Carolan explained.

Owner of Banana Patch ceramics and art studio, Carolan is also passionate about orchids. “Wayne Ajimura, a friend and orchid grower, helped me plant orchids inside my giant banyan tree. Now it’s just bursting with beautiful flowers. The plein air workshop may even use the tree for one of the sites to paint,” Carolan said referring to one of the three workshops being held over the weekend featuring art and orchids.

The Plein Air Workshop taught by Saim Caglayan, will teach students techniques and basic skills in outdoor painting, as well as lead them through actual projects. Another workshop offered falls into the culinary art category, as Hanapepe Café will show participants how to utilize the labor-intensive vanilla orchid plant to create delectable desserts. The workshop entitled “Vanilla Cuisine Workshop” will demonstrate how to make vanilla crème brulee and other vanilla delights from the vanilla pod.

The purpose of the event is more than capitalizing on the beauty of using orchids as painterly inspiration. “We hope that this is the beginning of bringing the two, normally separate, communities together,” Carolan said.

The Hanapepe Economic Alliance is an important vehicle for local businesses, many of which are workshops, studios and galleries, to have a sense of community and support. “These initiatives, like this weekend’s festival, bring connectedness to a type of career (artistic) that is usually pretty insular and isolated,” Carolan said.

The group juried show is open to all Kaua‘i artists. “We hope all of our local talent submits pieces for the show. I know most of the artists from Banana Patch are entering as well as most local Hanapepe studios. I trust we will be well represented,” she said.

Entires are due by Wednesday, at 4 p.m.

The work will be for sale, as will the hundreds of orchid plants cultivated by the Garden Island Orchid Society.

Local musicians including Hal Kinnaman, Tim Emerson, Pila, Helen Turner and jam blues band Swamp Daddy will be playing over the two-day event. “Free music, beautiful art and flowers, what more could you want,” Carolan said. “Unlike other towns that were begun as plantation communities, Hanapepe was always full of entrepreneurs, people on the fringe. Now, being the art town on the island, we are continuing in that legacy.”

While so many of Kaua‘i’s art community would credit the natural beauty of the island to be an inspiring muse for their work, this event actually cultivates a direct relationship between the island’s beauty and people’s creativity: true agri-culture.

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