Call it mystique, call it enchantment, call it simply a beautiful place. Whatever the description, there is definitely a sensory quality about the Big Island that strongly stirs the muse of the artist.
The result is a vibrant arts community in West Hawai‘i, a colorful palette of both visual and performing arts showcasing a diverse array of talents and styles.
In the visual arts, much of the works spring from the land, people and life here: a watercolor painting of a Kona sunset, a milo wood bowl, a detailed woodblock print of a Hawaiian hula, the iridescence of a raku vase. Many of these works by hundreds of talented, local artists can be found in the numerous commercial art galleries throughout West Hawai‘i, showcasing art to visitors, as well as residents.
In West Hawai‘i, the mauka (or mountainside) community of Holualoa in Kona as well as Waimea and Hawi in Kohala are three communities with large artist populations that offer multiple galleries. In West Hawai‘i, the Holualoa Foundation for Arts and Culture at the Donkey Mill Art Center, the Society for Kona’s Education and Art, the Kailua Village Artists, the Waimea Arts Center and other well-established non-profit groups offer arts classes and instruction in various media year-round to children and adults.
Meanwhile, community theater groups and choral ensembles, symphony orchestra and swing bands, modern dance and hula and much more all make up West Hawai‘i’s performing arts palette. Perhaps highest profile among performing arts venues is the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea and Aloha Theatre in South Kona.
The West Hawaii Dance Academy and Kona Dance and Performing Arts offers dance classics as well as newly created works throughout the year. Schools as well as non-profit, community and religious groups also put on regular performing arts events. Resort hotels on the Kohala Coast bring in jazz, blues, Hawaiian and other touring musical groups from Honolulu and the Mainland U.S. on a regular basis.
Finally, West Hawai‘i is home to a number of hula halau (Hawaiian dance troupes), which perform on an ongoing basis, but especially during observances of Hawaiian holidays, at luaus and for special cultural events. Hawaiian musical groups perform both traditional and contemporary Hawaiian vocal and instrumental music, including falsetto, slack key and Hawaiian steel guitar, performing at many of the same events as hula halau.