‘The Bright Side’ of life

Earlier this year, Kate Enoka woke up in the middle of the night and could not go back to sleep — her dream had taken her to a point of no return.

Less than two months later, she opened The Bright Side Gallery, a colorful place displaying mostly surf art in the heart of Hanapepe Town.

“I wanted to open the gallery; it was all I could think about,” Enoka said. “I don’t think I had a good night of sleep for another couple of months.”

Being a go-getter her whole life — she arrived alone on Kauai at only 17 years old — Enoka worked many different jobs for nearly 20 years, but never owned a business.

For the last five years, she wanted to open an art gallery, and had been talking with her husband about it the whole time.

Following that one sleepless night, the pieces fell magically and perfectly into place.

She secured the right artists and found a fitting location at a little but bright space at Hanapepe Road — a 10-minute drive from Kalaheo, which was vital for her to still be a dedicated mother to her two young children.

By May 17, Enoka pulled all the strings together, and planned a “soft opening” for The Bright Side during Hanapepe’s popular Art Walk Friday evenings.

As it turned out, the opening was anything but “soft.”

“It was crazy,” said Enoka, adding that a huge crowd — friends, acquaintances, locals, visitors and all their aunties and uncles — showed up for the opening.

From that day on, the tiny gallery has been a huge hit, surprising even Enoka, who didn’t expect to do so well.

“The Bright Side Gallery has taken on a life of its own in such a sweet way,” she said. “It’s been that of a more carefree, ‘surfy’ light-hearted vibe but maintaining a fine art quality.”

She said she has been fortunate to feature a collection of artists who have inspired her personal life with their simple desire to “live their dream” everyday, so it was natural that she wanted to share their talents with others.

“It’s been such a kick when clients come in and feel that intended lightness and actually comment that they can’t help but smile,” Enoka said. “They get it! It’s almost like healing art, since isn’t that what we all need in our lives — more happiness?”

This is exactly what she loves about art, “when you fall in love with and acquire a piece that you truly connect with on such a level that you just have to see and feel that feeling everyday,” she said.

And that is what made Enoka to really want to open a gallery, she said.

“It’s like falling in love and giving in,” Enoka said.

Some of the featured artists include Grant Pecoff, Steven Valiere, Coco, Aaron Haberman, Elizabeth Ashcroft and a few young up-and-coming Kauai artists.

As Enoka and her husband see what works, they have a vision for the gallery that continues to evolve but will always stay true to the original vibe, Enoka said.

“We have lots of ideas and plans for the direction of the gallery, but are taking it one step at a time,” she said.

The Bright Side is at 3890 Hanapepe Road. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday.

Visit www.thebrightsidegallery.com or call Enoka at 634-8671 for more information.

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