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plein-air-mauiMaui Plein Air Painting Invitational

It’s out in the open! Maui has its own significant plein air invitational, where celebrated artists come from all over the country for a week of competition—February 16 to 23—to capture tropical scenes in paint. (“Plein air” is French for painting out of doors.) The best part is, you can watch these artists at their easels creating colorful work in as little as a few hours, talk to them about their conceptual approach and painting techniques, and even buy their one-of-a-kind masterpieces at Village Galleries in Lahaina during the event’s finale reception.

Hosted by the Islanders, a group of Hawai‘i plein air artists founded by Maui’s Ronaldo Macedo and Kaua‘i’s Saim Caglayan, this event features local, statewide and national talent with invitations based on the artists’ merit and awards, and their reputation for teaching workshops. “The list changes every year,” says Macedo. “We look for some of the best in the country, and we look for diversity from across the country.”

This year includes two new artists from Florida, Larry Moore and Morgan Samuel Price. Moore holds a Society of Illustrators gold medal and has won numerous Best in Shows, including that of the Carmel Art Festival 2005. Price leads workshops nationally and has a new book of her work out titled Turn on the Light. Other participants include Nancy Brush of Texas, George Strickland of Arizona, and Gil Dellinger from California, to name a few. You’ll see the return of hot shots Ken Auster and Randall Sexton. And Jean Stern, executive director of the Irvine Museum, will give a public joint lecture with Kevin Macpherson of New Mexico.

Also participating are such resident plein air greats as Betty Hay Freeland and George Allan. When asked what the most dynamic part of this competition is, Allan responds excitedly, “The last morning’s ‘Lahaina Quick Draw’ is the most fun anyone can have painting. The competition is fierce, and it’s a race to get finished in two hours. Since it’s at the harbor, the subject matter is as difficult or easy as you want to make it. This is one of my favorite painting spots and, of course, when I have an audience, I automatically go into teaching mode.”

Maui No Ka ‘Oi is pleased to be a sponsor of this stellar event that brings together talented artists and the community, in celebration of our island’s beauty.

For an up-to-date schedule and more information about the Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational, visit www.hawaiipleinair.com.

—Ashley Stepanek

 

Wicket Good Fun

It’s a ball, it’s a mallet, it’s . . . crack! . . . croquet on Maui? That’s right, folks, there’s a club in full swing that plays international-style matches in grassy oceanfront Waipualani Park, just down from Lipoa Street off of South Kihei Road.

Ladies and gents wearing pressed collared whites—sometimes in game-appropriate footwear, more often barefoot (only in Hawai‘i!)—drive colorful balls through thick rectangular metal wickets that allow a margin of error of just 1/16th of an inch. Club members take shots by straddling the ball and swinging the mallet between their legs. (“It’s more accurate, which is why this swing was banned from golf,” says Leo Nikora, Maui Croquet Club’s director and founding member.)

Even though they play amid stunning natural beauty and the members are very welcoming, let’s get one thing straight: this isn’t your mock-competitive, backyard match with balls weighing just ounces and wickets made of flimsy aluminum. These guys swing mallets custom-made in Australia, and can peel your one-pound ball waaaaayyyy past the last palm tree.

Fortunately, Nikora is willing to assign you a hefty handicap and can show you how to get into the game like a pro. The man is ranked 28th nationally, and 241st in the world croquet circuit. He’s a big teddy bear, but he won’t let you win . . . which only makes him a better teacher in the end.

Learn to play real croquet! Practice games are held Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday afternoons. Visit www.mauicroquetclub.com for details (there’s even some croquet poetry to read on the website).

—Ashley Stepanek

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