“cultural force benefiting the community”
The Isaacs Art Center was created to serve as a cultural force benefiting the HPA, Waimea, and Big Island community. It is a part of Hawai'i Preparatory Academy and provides a venue for people to donate appreciated art and receive the benefits of a charitable donation. The mission of the Isaacs Art Center is to raise money for the benefit of HPA students while giving the community access to art and sculpture and providing students and parents living on the island a cultural learning experience.
This unassuming museum not only houses one of the finest Hawaiian Art collections in the world, it's a historic artifact! Thanks to a very earnest and knowledgeable docent, we found out that the building used to be a school on the other side of Kamuela and just turned 100 years old. According to our guide, the school partnered up with some community folks to save the building before it was demolished, breaking it up into four pieces, loading them onto a truck, wheeling them down the street (yes, that apparently is something people can actually do), and then restoring it to what you see today. There's too much art to list here, so suffice it to say there are tasteful selections of everything. The paintings were mostly historic (latest I saw was 2006) but there were also many incredible pieces (bowls, furniture, and some sculpture) by woodworkers who live on the island. I caught a glimpse of Tahitian pearl necklaces in one of the rooms, too. By far the greatest treasures were the massive Captain Cook scene (directly across from the front door; if you miss it, see an eye doctor immediately) and the equally massive Madge Tennent paintings, which can't be described in words, so I'm posting a few of the pictures I took (legally! I swear!) to give an inkling of the experience. Imagine a love child of Van Gogh and Gauguin, then shipwreck her on an island, add ancient Hawaiian culture and tropical colors, stir - swirl, rather - with gusto, and you just might scratch the surface of her style. The docent had researched Madge Tennent in depth, to the point that he could quote her on each painting we saw from memory. On the way out, the museum director came over to thank us for visiting, and we were so taken with her enthusiasm and knowledge that we were accidentally 20 minutes late for our dinner reservation! All I can say is our stop at Isaacs was well worth the overwhelmed hostess's glare.
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Isaacs Art Center
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