Artist Marcia Ray is a painter with a fascinating focus: the Hawaiian cowboy, or Paniolo. The Arts Business Institute spoke with her about her body of work.
ABI: How did you become interested in painting images of the paniolos?
MR: Living and painting in Hawaii since 1973, the ocean, landscapes and flowers were my subject matter. In my wildest dreams, I never thought the Paniolo murals would be what I am known for now in the Islands.
Parker Ranch, on the Big Island, asked if I could paint a 24’ mural from a tiny 6″ photo of 30 Paniolos on their horses. I said yes (needing the work & stepping up to the challenge!) Eighteen months later, I completed 32 Historic Paniolo murals for a public space in Kamuela, Hawaii. Ranching families today thank me for preserving their history and lifestyle through my art. I am really honored I took on the project!
ABI: What other projects are you working on now?
MR: Presently, I am the “Art Curator” at the Waikoloa Hilton resort on the Big Island of Hawaii for their extensive art collection from Asia and the South Pacific. The job gives me constant inspiration from the designs and colors in the collection. At home in my studio, I am carving woodblock panels with oceanic designs that I print on paper & canvas.
ABI: You have always made a living selling your art. How did you do it?
MR: It was not easy when I began selling in 1985. Very few galleries were here, but we had high end resorts on the coast. I approached the general managers and asked if I could put on art shows in their lobbies. I invited a few island artists to exhibit, and we also offered free painting lessons to the guests. We would make sales as well as friends. Often they would call when they returned the following year!
I also made a living as a mural artist for private estates, resorts and our hospital. We didn’t have a hospital here until 1996! By that time, they called me. It was a good feeling. Patients have thanked me and said that my murals helped them relax when going through tests, etc. That was my intention with the artwork I painted on the walls. Mahalo.