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Friday, November 15, 2013

Artistic creativity abounds at old Hawaii isle mill

Participants collaborated on a large-scale sculpture
during a workshop last year led by sculptor Virginia King.

By Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi

November 10, 2013   Honolulu Star Advertiser

Chisels on linoleum, hands on potter's wheels, paintbrushes on canvases — stop by the Donkey Mill Art Center on any given day and you'll see creativity percolating along with an ever-present pot of Kona coffee.

Housed in a former coffee mill that dates back 60 years, DMAC is a vibrant hub of activity in Holualoa, an artists' enclave in upcountry Kona on Hawaii island. In a terraced setting of open-beam ceilings, artwork on walls and shelves, and views that encompass the sea and verdant farms and forests, students as young as 3 years old explore mediums ranging from ceramics to sculpture, from painting to printmaking. Offerings also embrace the literary and performing arts, including book readings, film showings, ukulele building and guitar lessons.

The center is operated by the Holualoa Foundation for Arts and Culture, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that was established in 1994 by a diverse group of artists and art aficionados who wanted to enrich the lives of residents in the area through artistic and cultural pursuits. With a shoestring budget of $700, the foundation began offering classes and workshops for adults and children.

The sculpture, which attempts to bring awareness 
of the unique beauty of coral reefs, now hangs
over a dining table at Donkey Mill
"In the beginning many of the teachers donated their time," said Anne Catlin, DMAC's director of programs and a working artist who paints with oils and acrylics. "For seven years we held classes at artists' homes and studios while we searched for a permanent location. In 2001 we were able to purchase the Donkey Mill thanks to the generosity of a Holualoa family."
Volunteers put in countless hours injecting new life into the old mill, and the center opened the following year. In the ensuing decade new programs were introduced, class enrollment and membership in the foundation skyrocketed, and the facilities were enlarged and enhanced, including the construction of ceramics, sculpture, mixed-media, printmaking and children's studios. Numerous exhibitions have been mounted in the gallery, which has also served as a venue for music and dance performances and various art and cultural events.

Year-round art classes form the core of DMAC's activities. "Our mission is to provide a safe, nurturing environment that helps individuals discover, develop and expand their artistic abilities," Catlin said. "Artist-in-residency grants enable us to bring in professional artists from all over the world to foster cultural exchange and expose students to ideas and genres that they might not otherwise experience. We also work with many talented instructors who live on the island."
Visitors are welcome to participate in all of DMAC's classes, workshops, exhibitions, special events and outreach programs. Catlin believes art education can be a fun, stimulating component of a Hawaii vacation, providing opportunities for collaboration, critical thinking, self-discovery, experimentation and appreciation of the creative process.

Weaver Ed Kaneko talks to a class of keiki.
"We think of visitors as ohana (family) that we haven't met before," Catlin said. "Whether they come to see an exhibit or join us in a class, they'll enjoy creative time with the people here and get a good idea of our lifestyle and the things we love about our island and community. The Donkey Mill Art Center is a great place for people to make new friends, learn new ways of expressing themselves and hone skills and gifts they never knew they had."

Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based freelance writer whose travel features for the Star-Advertiser have won several Society of American Travel Writers awards.



 Address: 78-6670 Mamalahoa Highway, Holualoa, Hawaii island
 Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday in June and July
 Phone: 322-3362
Notes: Class enrollment is limited; please register at least one week in advance. Registration must be confirmed with payment at least 24 hours in advance. Although DMAC membership is not required to take classes, discounts are available for members (annual memberships start at $40).
If you’ll be attending a class during lunch or dinnertime, please bring a dish to share. Potlucks are part of the fun.

Donkey Mill Art Center is the location, and admission is free unless otherwise noted. If times aren’t listed, the center’s regular hours apply.

Kona Coffee Art Exhibit
Exhibition of local art interpreting Kona’s coffee lifestyle.

NOV. 30
Holiday Affair
4:30-7:30 p.m.
Holualoa Inn, 76-5932
Mamalahoa Highway
Call 322-3362 for tickets.  

DEC. 7
Holiday Holoholo
Noon-4 p.m.
Live cello music; warm drinks and baked goods; handmade gifts for sale; make your own wrapping paper, ornaments and holiday cards.
For more listings visit
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