KOLOA — Koloa Union Church and its pastor are opening an art gallery featuring watercolors of Hawaiian flowers, which the pastor has been painting for nearly 25 years.
Kahu Alan Akana will host a grand opening celebration from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the new gallery, located in the historic Smith Memorial Parsonage on 3281 Waikomo Road in Koloa.
Akana’s focus in his art is almost exclusively on the flowers that grow in Hawaii.
“There are so many stunning flowers that have been growing on these islands long before human contact,” Akana said. “My passion is to paint the essence of each flower so that people will feel drawn to their beauty and the importance of caring for our land so that these flowers will be around for future generations.”
He began painting floral watercolors in Honolulu in 1993 when his son Palani was born. Needing something to do while Palani took naps, he decided to take up a hobby, which soon became a lifelong passion.
He continued painting the flowers of Hawaii for 2o years while serving churches in Montana, Utah, Texas and California.
Since moving to Kauai in 2014, the artist has developed an affinity for the endemic flowers of Kauai and the Hawaiian Islands.
Many of Akana’s paintings are of rare and endangered species. Some of his recent ones have never been seen by most people.
“Sadly, many are on the endangered species list and some are even extinct in the wild. My dream is that they will someday flourish again on the Garden Isle,” he said.
Kahu Alan, as Akana is known to his congregation, sees his art as an important part of spirituality. The Christian Church has been creating art since its earliest days and Akana sees his art as an important part of that tradition. He believes art is a window into the divine and a catalyst of bringing our attention down to the Earth at the same time.
“My art provides an interpretation of the natural world and invites a response to God and the world of spirit,” he said. “My own responses to my watercolors have elicited wonder and gratitude for the sheer beauty of each flower, as well as anger over the carelessness toward land and water that humans have shown on our islands, and a joyful hope that our indigenous flowers may someday thrive again on our islands.”
Kahu Alan has been looking for a permanent space for the gallery since September.
Since none of the opportunities he has been pursuing have opened up yet, he began a conversation with his congregation in January about the possibilities of using the Smith Memorial Parsonage as a temporary gallery, in exchange for selling his art as a fundraiser for the church.
The parsonage is a beautiful plantation-style home owned by Koloa Union Church. The gallery will feature the flowers of Hawaii through Akana’s original watercolors, prints, posters and greeting cards.
The gallery will be managed by Palani Akana, the artist’s son.
“It brings me great joy that my son, who is the very person who inspired me to begin painting, will now be marketing and selling my art.”
The younger Akana is a recent graduate from Stanford University with a bachelor of science degree in Earth systems and a master of science in management science and engineering.
During and after college, Palani spent time on Hawaii Island working in scientific research, education and conservation.
He hopes that his newest venture with Alan Akana Gallery will give locals and visitors and increased appreciation for and awareness of the beautiful and unique plants and flowers found in Hawaii’s fragile ecosystems.
Normal gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and will commence on Monday, Feb. 27.