HOLUALOA — Located in the heart of Kona’s artist community, the eighth edition of the Hawaii Artist Collaboration has 38 artists from across the globe working together to create more than just pieces of art.
“It’s about having fun, but it’s also about exploring new directions and making your skills available to other people too,” creator and organizer Tai Lake said. “It’s a way of building the arts community, more than just making stuff.”
Lake’s workshop in Holualoa is the scene of the bustle of painters, woodworkers, blacksmiths, jewelers and other artists every year since he created the collaboration. The need for a collaboration in Hawaii became apparent to him after attending the Emma Lake International Artist Collaboration in Saskatchewan, Canada.
“This place has more creative energy than any place any of us have ever been,” Lake said. “The volcano is going and the ocean is right there. This is a raw power place. It’s a wonderful place to base.”
Lisa Geertsen, a full-time blacksmith from Seattle, first attended the Hawaii Artist Collaboration last year and said the different artists coming together in one space is what made her want to come back.
“I’m hooked,” Geertsen said. “I really love the energy, the creativity, the minds working together and the stuff everywhere.”
David Reisland, a woodworker from Kona, is a seven-time attendee, and the luster of the collaboration hasn’t worn off for him.
“It’s totally an inspiration. You get to work with all these other artists you’ve never worked with before and get to see what they do,” Reisland said. “Hardly anyone comes with a preconceived notion. We just show up on Monday and dive in. We have no idea what we’re doing.
“You do all kinds of stuff you’ve never done before. This is really unique.”
The week ends with the work created by the artists being auctioned off from 4-8 p.m. Saturday at Holualoa Inn. The proceeds from the tickets sold to the auction will be donated to Hawaii Island teachers for art supplies from local Kailua-Kona store Akamai Art Supply.
A metal work artist from Portland, Oregon, Greg Wilbur has attended 28 artists collaborations all over the world. This is his first time attending in Hawaii, and he said despite the smaller size, the feeling is the same.
“This is a great one,” Wilbur said. “The people are hand selected. It’s invitation only, so they are very professional people. There’s a lot of equipment and a lot of expertise here.”
Lake said the artists who are chosen for the collaboration are all masters of their own specialties, and are also leaders who are willing to share and teach with others.
That’s why Aaron Hammer, a second-year collaborator from Papaikou, is attending. He uses his skills as a professional woodturner to make much-needed objects for the artists and their projects. Hammer said his desire to be a service to the other artists is what brought him back to the collaboration for a second time.
“People are coming up to me and going, ‘Can you make me a series of rings of different sizes?’” Hammer said. “Then a jeweler says, ‘Can you make me some beads?’ So I’m making these beads out of Molokai deer horn.”
The collaboration is a unique chance for the artists in attendance to create pieces of art together, which Hammer said is a rarity for a lot artists who often find themselves working in isolation.
“On one hand, it’s like professional development for us. And on the other hand it’s just really fun,” Hammer said. “Everyone here is a professional artist, and there’s sacrifices involved in being a self-employed artist, and one of the sacrifices is working in isolation. To come here and be working and surrounded by a bunch of peers, it has a benefit.”
Shelley Hoist, a fiber artist, and Denise Wallace, a fine art jeweler, were two people who could be found working together at the workshop this week. The Hawaii Island-based artists were combining their skills to create a salmon-skin vest, one of many pieces being made with alternative materials to be put up for auction.
“It’s fun to get to work in materials that you’re not used to working with,” Hoist said. “And I think that’s the neat part of the collaboration, it lets you experiment with other materials and other techniques you would even never have the opportunity to work with.”
Hoist is a first-time attendee of the collaboration, but her temporary work partner comes back every year.
“I love the people,” Wallace said. “And I love the idea that we can work together and use each other’s brains to come up with possibilities.”
Info: Tickets to the 2018 Hawaii Artist Collaboration auction can be purchased for $35 at eventbrite.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the door Saturday for $45.