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MAMo 2017: Maoli Arts Month Becomes a Movement

Kyle Wright, courtesy of PA?I Foundation.
Kyle Wright, courtesy of PA?I Foundation.

The Hawaiian word, maoli, means native, or genuine. When Maoli Arts Monthstarted in 2006, its founders focused on three aspects of the vision: a gallery show of Native Hawaiian fine arts, a high fashion wearable art show, and an arts market that could fuel a boom in maoli art production. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports that eleven years later, opportunities have built capability in the community.

Vicky Holt Takamine, Executive Director of the Pa‘i Foundation, talks about the genesis of Maoli Arts Month/Movement and her plans for Pa'i Foundation's Kaka'ako artists' spaces. They hope to break ground later this summer.

noe tanigawa
Credit noe tanigawa
Vicky Holt Takamine is Executive Director of the Pa'i Foundation and kumu hula of Pua Ali'i 'Ilima.

The MAMo Wearable Art Show happens Wednesday, May 17th 2017 at the Hawai‘i Theatre, 7pm. Find Hawaiian made lauhala, t-shirts, jewelry, and more at the MAMo Arts Market this Saturday evening (5/13/17) at Helumoa/Royal Hawaiian Center.

Vicky Holt Takamine is Executive Director of the Pa‘i Foundation and kumu hula of Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima. Takamine says hula helps integrate humans and the natural world.

Takamine: We talk about love, we talk about our ocean, our wind, our rain, all of our natural resources, our flowers, our fauna. I think that’s why, for me, hula is uplifting, and enriching. You come to hula class and you walk out feeling a better person.

Kyle Wright, courtesy of PA?I Foundation
Credit Pa'i Foundation
MAMo at Honolulu Night Market.

Takamine has been the driving force behind MAMo--Maoli Arts Month---now officially the Maoli Arts Movement.

Takamine: The whole purpose for MAMo for me, was to showcase Native Hawaiian art and artists and cultural practices, and educate our public about what Hawaiian art is.

Takamine: The very first was in 2006 at the Bishop Museum. Then next year, I was like, you know what we’re missing? We’re missing art that we wear. Wearable art. So I called it a wearable art show because it’s not fashion. It’s the things hula people wear. It’s our k?hei, it’s our featherwork, it’s our lei hulu, it’s the lauhala. All of that gets applied and put onto our bodies, so its k?kau, kinolau, all the tattoos, our tattoo artists. It gets put on fabric, the things that we wear. So I looked at that as an industry up and coming.

Kyle Wright, courtesy of PA?I Foundation
Credit Pa'i Foundation
Wearable art by Marques Marzan in the MAMo Wearable Art Show 2016.

Interestingly enough, a lot of that has come out of the hula community, from the younger generation like Manaola, Baba Yap, and our fashion show this year will feature another hula related designer, Chaz Kamau’u. The son of Natalie Ai and ‘Iolani Kamau'u. Hula Tee’s is a brand new clothing line that just started this year. He first showed at Merrie Monarch this year and we’ve invited him to be part of our Wearable Art Show.

Showmanship is big—this is the MAMo Wearable Art Show, after all, and it IS hosted by Vicky Holt Takamine and Robert Cazimero. You’ll see a Hawai‘ only vocabulary of materials and shapes on this catwalk---and you see smart local chic. And you'll see guys. Think Merrie Monarch meets Project Runway. Ari South, by the way, makes her MAMo debut this year.

Kyle Wright, courtesy of PA?I Foundation
Credit Pa'i Foundation
Vicky Holt Takamine and Robert Cazimero hosted the MAMo Wearable Art Show 2016.

Lotta new faces in this Wearable art Show!

Kanoelani Davis from Kamiloloa Moloka‘i is the owner and creator of PoMahina Designs, one of the new lines on the Hawai‘i Theatre runway. Davis’ inspiration was the goddess Hina, intimately connected with her home island. Looking for extra income, Davis began putting Moloka‘i theme designs on caps that became popular first in Hilo.

Davis: It’s mainly me still that does everything. When I first started it, everything was made here on Moloka‘i and everything was made by me at home. Then I started to expand and get bigger, I started to recruit help and contracted other people from Moloka‘i to do things to help me. Now we’re at a place where it’s too much, so now I’m going outwards, whether it be to O‘ahu or to the continent.

noe tanigawa
Credit noe tanigawa
Featherwork artist Kawika Lum, completing work on the train of a gown for the MAMo Wearable Art Show 20167

Davis: So I’m very fortunate. But I stopped the hats, they became very popular, people are making them left and right. In order to give others that chance to have that too and not repeat, I tried to find something else I could work on. So from hats we went to clothing, and then I went into shoes and I started doing canvas shoes.

Davis: We still do very well with canvas shoes, not too many people do that. The canvas shoes used to be made in the US, but now we have to send them outward. Yes, to China. I do my best to keep what I can in the US, so we just started running shoes and that is in the U.S.

Did you have to travel to china, or do everything online from Moloka‘i?

noe tanigawa
Credit noe tanigawa
Feather filled bust decoration by Kawika Lum on this gown, set for the MAMo Wearable Art Show 2017.

Davis: Everything was through friends networking, and just meeting great people. They helped me finding different avenues and kind of really empowered me to don’t be afraid and reach out and give me their contacts and that’s how that all began.

The upcoming MAMoWearable Arts Show will be her first time as a headliner on the runway. She has models converging from different islands, some are customers who just volunteered to be part of her show. Davis, a single mother of four, still teaches art part time.

Davis: One thing about Moloka‘i, I will have to say, we have a lot of entrepreneurs and we have a lot of people who are very talented. When people say, there’s not much on Moloka‘i, we all believe there’s more than enough. When there are big job losses and everything,

Credit PoMahina
Yoga wear by Kanoelani Davis' Moloka'i based company, PoMahiina Designs.

they feel like, Oh, Moloka‘i will never survive, but I think we’re pretty resilient and we persevere through just about anything and we use all our creativity to make things happen and work for us. We’re very very lucky in that way.

Davis: And a lot of the time, our purpose is our families. Being a single mom, I had no choice. It had to work. This had to work, it has to, because that was our way of surviving. As far as my kids, if they can at least see the hard work and if they see and experience problem solving and critical thinking, and other things, that’s the best thing I can give them at this point.

You’ll be able to purchase Davis’ leggings and sporty wear under the Pomahina label, as well as wearable art by all the show designers in a trunk show at Marks Garage after the runway show. There will be a silent auction of special designer pieces in the mezzanine at the Hawai‘i Theatre; stop by before the show or during intermission. Bids there and direct contributions to Pa;i Foundation help support MAMo 2018.

Hawai‘i’s hula community was the first to support local wearables and artists and this scene has come a long way!

May 13, 2017

MAMo 2017 Arts Market at Helumoa

Royal Hawaiian Center (2201 Kal?kaua Ave. Honolulu, HI 96815), Royal Grove at Helumoa
Hours: 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM

May 17, 2017

MAMo 2017 Wearable Art Show at Hawai?i Theatre

Hawai?i Theatre (1130 Bethel St. Honolulu, Hi 96813)
(808) 844-2001, www.paifoundation.orgfor more info
Hours: Doors open at 6:00 pm, Seating starts at 6:30 pm, Show starts at 7:00 pm,
Trunk Show to follow at the ARTS @ Marks Garage (Pauahi Street & Nu?uanuAvenue).
TICKETS: (808) 528-0506, www.hawaiitheatre.com(Hawai?i Theatre Box Office)

Designers: Sonny Ching, Kanoelani Davis, Momi Greene, Kawika Lum-Nelmida, Keoua Nelsen, Kehaulani Nielson, and Nita Pilago.
Celebrity hosts: Vicky Holt Takamine and Robert Cazimero.

May 19 – 20, 2017

MAMo2017 Arts Market at the Pa?akai Marketplace

SALT at Our Kaka?ako (660 Ala Moana Blvd. Honolulu, HI 96813)
(808) 844-2001
Hours: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Native Hawaiian arts market at SALT at Our Kaka?ako in Honolulu. Also featuring entertainment and a mini fashion show!

2017 Awardees Exhibition through June 15

Honoring PA?I Foundation 2017 MAMo Awardees: Moana Eisley, Umi Kai, and Brook Parker.

ARTS at Marks Garage

(1159 Nu?uanu Ave. Honolulu, HI 96813)
Hours: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

June 17, 2017

MAMo at the MACC- Wearable Art Show

Maui Arts & Cultural Center (One Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732), Yokouchi Pavilion & Courtyard
Hours: Trunk Show for VIP ticket-holders at 6:00 PM; Show starts at 7:30 PM,
Trunk Show to follow in Morgado Hall for the public
TICKETS: (808) 242-SHOW (7469), www.mauiarts.org $35, $45/reserved seating; $65/VIP, includes 6pm trunk show preview & meet-and-greet with the designers (plus applicable fees)

Artists: Kanoelani Davis, Momi Greene, Anna Kahalkulu, Kawika Lum-Nelmida, Keoua Nelsen, Koa Johnson.
Celebrity hosts: Vicky Holt Takamine and Robert Cazimero.

Maui Arts & Cultural Center and the ;PA’I Foundation presen MAMo at the MACC for the fourth consecutive year.

MAMo 2017 Juried Exhibit at PA?I Arts Gallery at ;K?lia through July 5

Ala Moana Center (1450 Ala Moana Blvd. Honolulu, HI 96814)
Mauka Wing, 2nd Level
(808) 844-2001
Hours: Mon. – Sun.; 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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