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Art Night Heads North

The founder of Kilauea Art Night, Courtney Puig, likes to create and sell her pottery

The founder of Kilauea Art Night, Courtney Puig, likes to create and sell her pottery

The North Shore art scene is about to get more colorful. Not only will Kilauea Art Night continue to entertain crowds on the last Saturday of each month, but also, beginning March 13, on the second Sunday of each month, Princeville Center will host its own evening dedicated to the local art scene, Princeville Night Market. These events are made possible in large part by local artisan Courtney Puig, who had a vision of bringing the community together to celebrate Kauai creations and the people who craft them.

“Creativity needs to be celebrated, and I think it’s inspiring and beautiful,” she says.

When Puig, a professional potter, moved to the island in 2006, she immediately was inspired by the array of talented local artists and felt moved to create her own work. It wasn’t until after she lost her father, Eliseo Ricardo “Rick” Puig Sr., to Kauai’s unforgiving ocean at Kauapea, however, that she took her artistic endeavors to the next level and, in 2009, started a recycled T-shirt bag business called See That Fly.

Abe Kowitz of Kauai Wood Photography shows off some of his artwork, where he puts iconic Hawaii images onto reclaimed wood;

Abe Kowitz of Kauai Wood Photography shows off some of his artwork, where he puts iconic Hawaii images onto reclaimed wood;

The tragedy also found her wanting to connect more closely to the community, and a few years later she developed a way to do so by helping artists join together and prosper at Kilauea Art Night. The cherry on

the sundae was that the owner of Kilauea’s historic stone building, Mark Nesselson, was kind enough to offer his space in order to launch the first event in the summer of 2013.

“I have a lot of gratitude because it’s my idea, but everybody else has come together to create it,” says Puig. “Without each and every person who participates and commits to being here, it wouldn’t be what it is.”

One of Alexandra Gutierrez's wood burning creations (PHOTO COURTESY ALEXANDRA GUTIERREZ);

One of Alexandra Gutierrez’s wood burning creations (PHOTO COURTESY ALEXANDRA GUTIERREZ);

Kilauea Art Night continues to blossom, so much so that Puig was asked to help kick off the new event in Princeville.

“It’s one of the coolest art venues on Kauai that has a great variety of local artisans,” says Puig of Kilauea Art Night, which includes food, music and entertainment.

The inaugural event featured approximately 20 vendors, and it has grown to include some 45 rotating businesses that continue drawing about 300 people every month.

“It’s a fun, friendly, family event,” says Puig.

It’s also a place where quality homemade products are a guarantee. Puig only selects top-notch local artisans to participate, including Abe Kowitz of Kauai Wood Photography, Jessica Drake of Jeseye Designs, Alexandra Gutierrez of AG37 Hawaii Creations and Kali Lee of Kali Kauai Gems.

One of Kali Lee of Kali Kauai Gems' pieces that incorporates sunrise shells with high quality stones

One of Kali Lee of Kali Kauai Gems’ pieces that incorporates sunrise shells with high quality stones

Kowitz, who creates images on reclaimed wood, has loved being able to network at the art night, which has led to friendships as well as business connections.

“It’s very revealing and humbling to sell something that you make, to put yourself out there and expose what you think is pretty for the public and get the response. If you don’t get any good responses, it’s like getting a ‘D’ on that paper you worked really hard on,” he says with a chuckle.

Even though it’s always a creative risk to display work, Gutierrez, like Kowitz, can’t imagine doing anything else. She owns a wood-burning business and creates designs on various objects, such as boxes and earrings. She has found that her work is akin to meditation.

“Because when you start thinking too much, you burn yourself,” she says.

Artistic endeavors are often therapeutic for artists, and the products at Kilauea Art Night also exude healing properties. Inspired by the ocean, Lee, for example, uses sunrise shells and high-quality stones — such as emeralds that have unique restorative characteristics — for her jewelry. In fact, many of the products at the event are made with natural and organic items, such as Drake’s tie-dye apparel made from high-quality cotton and rayon.

The next Kilauea Art Night is happening this Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LACE ANDERSEN)

The next Kilauea Art Night is happening this Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LACE ANDERSEN)

“It’s great exposure. There are so many wonderful artists out here, and it really opens up the whole community to me as an artist,” says Drake, who has enjoyed being a regular part of the event. “We inspire each other constantly and always keep each other uplifted.”

“A lot of times, making your own stuff and being creative can be a very vulnerable act, so it’s nice to get support,” agrees Lee.

“It might be a small area, but it’s homey,” adds Gutierrez.

Even though Kowitz has found success at Kilauea Art Night, he’s come to realize that it doesn’t necessarily matter if he sells anything — he just enjoys being in the company of other like-minded individuals.

Shama and Cali Mahuiki, Jessica Drake's twin daughters, show off some of Jeseye Designs' tie-dye apparel for keiki (PHOTO COURTESY JESEYE DESIGNS)

Shama and Cali Mahuiki, Jessica Drake’s twin daughters, show off some of Jeseye Designs’ tie-dye apparel for keiki (PHOTO COURTESY JESEYE DESIGNS)

“My growth as an artist — not just what to make and how to make it, but connecting with humanity — is what caused me to turn it into what I do for a living rather than just something I do as a hobby,” he says. “Besides, when you’re leading with your heart with something you create, people notice that.”

The next Kilauea Art Night is set for Saturday (Feb. 27) from 4 to 8 p.m. at the historic stone building. The new Princeville Night Market will kick off Sunday, March 13, from 4 to 8 p.m. and will feature more than 50 local artisans at Princeville Center. Visit facebook.com/KilaueaArtNight for more information.

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