Story by Sarah Ruppenthal
Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center
It’s a picture-perfect summer morning when a college friend calls to tell me she’s vacationing on Maui. “Let’s get together!” she says. She’s an artist, so naturally I suggest we meet at the Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao.
As we wander around the scenic 25-acre property, my friend is visibly awestruck. “I could live here,” she sighs dreamily. I tell her that, in fact, someone did used to live here. “Wow,” she says, eyes wide with appreciation. “They must have really loved it.”
They really did.
Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center, known affectionately as “the Hui,” was founded in 1934, but the estate it calls home dates back to 1885, when Henry Perrine Baldwin, of the Alexander & Baldwin sugar-growing dynasty, purchased the parcel of land. Thirty years later, his son, Harry, and daughter-in-law, Ethel, decided to build their family home on the property, and recruited Harry’s cousin Charles “C.W.” Dickey, one of the most influential architects in Hawai‘i’s history, to design it.
Dickey created a spectacular two-story Mediterranean-style villa with a matching guest house, carriage house and stable. The home was completed in 1917 and the Baldwins christened the estate Kaluanui, which in Hawaiian means “the big pit,” a name which was given to the land long before because of its proximity to Māliko Gulch.
Ethel was proficient in many artistic mediums, including drawing, painting, feather-stitching, metalworking and leatherworking. Her daughter, Frances Baldwin Cameron, was also an artist, and in 1934 they invited 20 friends to come to Kaluanui and make art. The group began to meet regularly at the estate and called themselves the Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Society. (In Hawaiian, hui means “club” and no‘eau means “skilled.”) Word of the club spread and membership grew, and soon Ethel and Frances registered the Hui as a nonprofit organization.
In 1946 Harry passed away and six years later, Ethel moved out, placing the property in the hands of the Baldwin-owned Maui Land & Pineapple Company. Hui No‘eau remained active, meeting in various locations until 1976, when the club struck a deal with Harry and Ethel’s grandson, Colin Cameron, the first president and CEO of ML&P: The Hui would lease Kaluanui for $1 a year. The organization purchased the estate in 2005 and it became the nonprofit’s permanent home.
Today, the Hui is a creative haven for artists of all styles and talents. Its century-old buildings have been transformed into working studios, galleries and classrooms where students of all ages and abilities can learn ceramics, drawing, glassblowing, photography, printmaking, painting, metalsmithing and jewelry-making. The Hui regularly hosts events such as exhibitions, workshops, youth art camps and lectures, and also rents the venue for meetings, weddings, and baby and bridal showers. An on-site gallery shop offers museum-quality gifts, unique souvenirs and handcrafted items from local artists and artisans.
Visit the Hui and take a guided or self-guided tour of the estate to observe artists at work, view an exhibition, admire the architecture, or simply stand in the shadow of two of the largest Norfolk Island pines on Maui and absorb the serenity of this enduring estate.
2841 Baldwin Ave., Makawao | HuiNoeau.com | 808.572.6560 | FB @Hui.Noeau