HANALEI — Music, friends and watercolor came together Tuesday night for the grand re-opening of Art and Soul Gallery in Hanalei.
“It’s so amazing to be back,” said artist and gallery owner Mercedes Maza. “I’ve got fire under me now again and I feel very happy to be able to offer artwork and a little space for other artists as well.”
The April 14-15 flooding brought three feet of mud into Art and Soul Gallery, as well as many other businesses and homes throughout the North Shore.
Artwork was damaged and furniture destroyed, drywall and floors were ruined.
“I had to toss antique chairs and my little laptop was unfortunately on the ground,” Maza said. “It’s very sad that the artwork got damaged.”
But, after three months of community collaboration and hard work, Art and Soul is back on its feet, with plenty of paintings displayed throughout the building.
“It wasn’t me who did everything, it was the community,” Maza said. “Business owners around me, Samaritan’s Purse, the Southern Baptist (Church), New Hope Lihue … I just had so many people that came out and lent a hand.”
Art and Soul has been in its Hanalei location — along Kuhio Highway, across from Napali Kayak Tours — for 12 years, but it’s not the first place Maza has had a gallery.
Her first gallery opened in Hanapepe in 1982 with James Hoyle and AJ Metzger. Maza was in that space for four years before moving her gallery to Old Koloa Town for 14 years, then to the Chin Young Village for six years and finally to her current location 12 years ago.
She’s a watercolor artist who loves to paint and got her inspiration from her mentor Waihang Lai, who taught her technique at Kauai Community College. She also studied watercolor in New York and Europe.
“(I love) the fluidity, the way it has its own life, the transparency of it and the way I can merge colors,” Maza said. “It fascinates me.”
The walls are covered with Maza’s artwork and that of other artists. She said getting enough paintings to open the gallery was, again, thanks to the generosity of others.
“The beautiful thing is that one of my longtime art patrons are downsizing and they gave me probably 50 paintings. They framed the artwork beautifully and I’ll of course give a portion to them when they sell,” Maza said.
Art and Soul’s doors opened last Monday and many of the people who helped out in the cleanup process gathered at Tuesday’s event to celebrate.
“We had such a wonderful time, it’s so nice to have the community together,” Maza said.
“Thank goodness I’m back. I still have to finish up the flooring, but it’s OK.”