Gearing Up For Kilauea Art Night 2

Through tragedy came triumph for Courtney Puig, founder and operator of Kilauea Art Night.

Sadly, the North Shore resident lost her father to Kaua’i’s turbulent seas at Kauapea. However, the misfortune inspired Puig to enhance her artistic nature and connect more closely to the community.

“This is the first time in my life that I feel like I have a community,” she says. “From pain is growth.”

Not only does Puig now operate her own successful recycled T-shirt bag business, but she also is the heart and soul of Kilauea Art Night.

“I really think my dad enabled me to have this business,” she says about her company, See That Fly, which opened in 2009 right before the plastic bag ban took effect.

Her parents collectively supported her dreams of creativity since she was a child. Puig was just 10 years old when she began painting with watercolors, illustrating and creating pottery.

“My parents knew that was what I wanted to do and they really enabled me,” she explains.

Puig continues to put her skills to use with her business, as well as organizing the new North Shore art night.

“I’m the type of person who likes to manifest ideas and create them,” she says.

People can lose sight of their artistic dreams if they don’t have access to the proper outlets, and Puig wants to help aspiring visionaries take the necessary steps in order to achieve their goals and “see that fly.” Thus, she created a space for artists to come together the last Saturday of each month to share their imagination with others. “And appreciate the talent and to encourage artists to continue creating,” she adds.

Her original inspiration to launch the event came from a young designers’ market she attended regularly in New York City.

“That just totally encouraged me creatively,” she says.

When she moved to Kaua’i seven years ago, she realized the need for a similar market. After traveling to Oahu to participate in art shows for her business, she was determined to bring the concept back to the Garden Isle. She pursued the idea in May, received approval to make it a reality in June and hosted the inaugural event by the end of that same month.

Puig drew from a rich tapestry of local artists who develop Kaua’i-made products and chose 20 of them to participate in the inaugural event.

“This is an amazingly rich community of artisans here,” she says.

The 20 to 30 artists who will continue to be featured each month will rotate. “So that everybody gets an opportunity,” says Puig.

Products available for sale include apparel, jewelry and fine art. “Really unique, handmade items that are of good quality,” she says.

Entertainment also abounds at Kilauea Art Night with various musicians and performances. And since the event is located at Kilauea’s stone building, the Fish Market stays open for grinds. However, Puig is currently in the process of setting up a long-term operating agreement for the art night and plans to offer even more local food vendors.

“The buildings and this community inspire me,” says Puig about Kilauea, which she called her home for a number of years before moving to Princeville. “This building in particular has a real heart.”

The Louisiana native genuinely feels the call to inspire others to follow their dreams and take action, and she hopes to eventually create a design space for keiki to learn crafts such as sewing and pottery.

“There needs to be more opportunity,” says the mother of 5-year-old Bell Zietz, who is a kindergartener at Hanalei Elementary School. “I love teaching and I love learning, and I would love for my daughter to have those opportunities – and I think the community would appreciate it as well.”

Though it will take time to offer something of this nature, the effort it took to make the Kilauea Art Night come to fruition was worth it.

The praise and gratitude she has received for making it happen has been exceptionally rewarding for Puig.

“I’m leaving my mark,” she says.

The next Kilauea Art Night is Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. Visit facebook.com/kilaueaart-night for more information, or email kilaueaartnight@gmail.com.

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