An Art Paradise on Maui

Mckenna Hallett

Mckenna Hallett

Guest blogger Mckenna Hallett shares her thoughts on becoming an artist in a tropical paradise. She will be a speaker at the upcoming Arts Business Institute Workshop in Maui on September 9-10, 2013. Read more about this special event below.

In 1986, I closed the door on my San Francisco Flat, at the top of Ashbury Street with it’s view overlooking Golden Gate Park, the famous and gracious Golden Gate Bridge, and on a clear day, the gleaming sands of Point Reyes some 30 miles north. I got on a plane and traveled 2,339 miles to Maui arriving on New Year’s Eve. It was truly a New Year and a new life when I awoke the next day.

There is a saying here: “Maui chooses who can live here.” I buy that. I have seen Maui at work on the new arrivals, with some finding a good home, good (enough) job, and other essentials within days/weeks and others just struggling in the most bizarre twilight zone situations and finally just giving up and returning to the mainland.

Fortunately, Maui welcomed me and my husband and has mostly been a dear and kind friend. Oh, did I tell you that Maui is more than the name of our Island? Maui is a Demi-god well known throughout Polynesia. And Maui has the reputation of being a trickster. I think Maui likes to make pilikia (trouble) and just spits out those who don’t get the Aloha spirit figured out soon enough for his liking.


The tropical beauty of Maui

So in the early 90‘s when I found myself contemplating starting some kind of small crafting business and perhaps becoming a full-time artist, my focus turned to the vibrant art community here. It came as no surprise that I was part of a large community of people who found a new “life” and “spirit” and a new point of view that is fostered throughout our Islands. People who are willing to “leave it all behind” are quite often willing to “start a new life” once settled here.

Hawaii has a quirky underbelly. Those born and raised here are fortunate to feel it innately. But for me and my fellow transplants, we learn each day with renewed vigor that we are in a very special part of the planet. We soon find ourselves using another language throughout our day. We Kokua (help) our neighbors and share the Aloha at every opportunity. We know we are part of an Ohana (family) or put into another context: we are all on the same boat.

If all who create for a living can be seen as having an “artist mindset” that sets us apart from other forms of livelihood, adding our unique “island lifestyle” into the mix makes for some vastly wonderful creativity. The art “scene” here is vibrant, enchanted, and full of surprising talent. Many world class and highly acclaimed artists have managed to find their true spirit once landing on these shores. Many others, like me, have managed to find the artist that only emerged after taking that long plane ride to paradise.

For me, paradise is being in my studio and making my living from my “artist mindset”. It is my daily hug from Maui. It’s a dream come true.


Join us at our upcoming Art Business Workshop on the beautiful island of Maui, on September 9-10, 2013! This unique workshop will help artists who want to launch and grow small businesses. Find out more about this special event here.



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