Pua Ha‘aheo will debut its new line of fine art pieces, including the ‘Ohe Collection of hairpicks, at the 2014 Merrie Monarch Invitational Hawaiian Arts Fair at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium during Merrie Monarch week.
This fine art on display was influenced by featured artist Ronald Kanakanui’s close relationship with his grandfather, legendary kumu hula Samuel Pua Ha‘aheo. Growing up in his grandfather’s household, Kanakanui was an eyewitness to the still present-day revolution of Hawaiian cultural rediscovery through the arts.
“It still amazes me today that as a child, my grandfather’s mission of bringing back the hula was considered to be an act of defiance. As a people, we need not hide from the arts, but embrace the calling that is inherent in us as a people,” he said.
Featured products on display will include fine art gallery pieces, custom hand-carved bracelets and hairpicks. Each piece is handmade by Kanakanui at his workshop in Puna. Materials used vary from native woods such as koa, kou, milo, ohia and sandalwood, to bone and bamboo.
Products will also be on sale during Merrie Monarch week at the Pua Ha‘aheo website, www.puahaaheo.com.
Pua Ha‘aheo curates Native Hawaiian cultural expression through the arts. The company is named after the man recognized for curating hula at a time when it was highly discouraged to do so. His direct descendants operate the Pua Ha‘aheo company. The company’s goal is to provide Native Hawaiian fine arts to the world.
The ‘Ohe Collection of hair ornaments is made out of hand-picked bamboo cultivated by Kanakanui at his home in Puna. Each hairpick sold during Merrie Monarch week will have a unique carved design.
The special properties of bamboo allow each hairpick to be waterproof, very light and extremely durable. The hand-carved design on each hairpick in the collection can be used for traditional ‘ohe kapala stamping.
“‘Ohe (bamboo) as a material is perfect for hula and other sports. The durability and lightness of the material is unmatched,” Kanakanui said.
Growing up on Oahu, Kanakanui would carve any surface he could get his hands on. His sister, Vernette, remembers, “There were 40 coconut trees that surrounded our home. At the age of 12, Ron carved up every single tree! It was so bad that we needed to cut every tree down because the wind threatened to topple them over.”
His pieces have been on exhibit at Bishop Museum, Wailoa Art Center, East Hawaii Cultural Center, MAMO and PIHA. His pieces have been available at local galleries such as Gallery of Great Things, Volcano Art Center, Banyan Gallery, Martin and MacArthur and Nohea Gallery, as well as abroad at venues such as Neiman Marcus and Radio Hula.