Appreciation for art and Kauai

An exhibition of Kapaa artist Daniel Finchum’s nature photography and land art — sculptures made of flowing water, drift wood, stones and other raw elements — will kick off at 6 tonight at the Kauai Society of Artists Gallery at Kukui Grove Center.

The event, Finchum’s first solo show, will feature more than 30 images of his unique works, each celebrating Kauai’s natural beauty. There will be live music and pupus and refreshments will be served.

“I don’t do this for a living,” said Finchum, who manages the Air Force Station’s radar shop in Kokee. “I do this because it’s a complete passion. It’s my way of breaking away from everything, sort of like a meditation.”

Finchum’s foray into nature artistry began two short years ago when he first took interest in the age-old pastime of balancing rocks. The 54-year-old outdoorsman learned he has a knack for carefully arranging these little rock towers by the sea.

Over time, his newfound hobby grew to include more complex sculptures: a yellow flame hovering above spirals of driftwood collected from the Kealia Rivermouth, a careful, color-coded arrangement of pine tree needles set along the Sleeping Giant hiking trail, African tulip flowers scattered under the rapids of Lower Hoopii Falls.

Finchum photographs his creations and then disassembles them, taking only their images in tow.

“This art form is really my way of communicating how much I love Kauai to other people,” he said. “If anything, I hope I can get people to appreciate the island in a new way or in a way they never thought of before.”

The exhibition will also include Finchum’s landscape photography. He counts among his influences the works of Chip Phillips, Aaron Feinberg and Ansel Adams, as well as the dramatic lighting that is signature of the Hudson River School movement.

“A lot of my pictures have a magical look, a kind of glow to them, and that’s because that’s how they make me feel when I’m creating them,” Finchum said. “And that’s the feeling I want the viewer to get when they take them in.”

Many of the photographs Finchum will display in the exhibition have never been seen, he said.

Finchum has chosen six works from which he will donate 100 percent of the profits to the Kauai chapter of Surfrider Foundation and the National Tropical Botanical Garden. He will donate 10 percent of all other sales to the same organizations.

Finchum’s exhibition opening will take place from 6 to 9 tonight at the Kauai Society of Artists Gallery at Kukui Grove Center in Lihue. Daily viewing will continue from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. through May 29.

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