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Molokai Art Center Opens Its Doors

The Board of Directors pose for a picture at the Blessing outside of the new Molokai Arts Center.

Though the Molokai Art Center has been open for less than a month, the shelves are already laden with ceramic bowls and figurines waiting for the kiln. Along the bottom shelf sits a herd of chalky rabbits, shaped by some of Molokai’s youngest artists. They are a symbol of what the new Art Center is all about –a space where Molokai keiki and adults could experience “freedom and discipline in a nurturing environment,” according to the Art Center’s Board of Directors.

The blessing of the new community Art Center, currently located at the Coffees of Hawaii Plantation in Kualapu`u, took place last Friday. It has taken 18 months of planning and extensive donations, according to the Board.

“It is a sacred place because whenever you create something, that’s a sacred act,” said Molokai Art Center President Dan Bennett. “It’s for our community.”

Bennett had previously been hosting classes out of his home pottery studio for nearly 40 years. The new center will be able to accommodate a lot more people and artwork, he said.

Zach Socher is among the first artists to have their artwork displayed at the center gallery. The Molokai native’s photography exhibit was unveiled at the blessing.

In addition to art workshops, the arts center will also host special events in cultural arts, poetry, literature, music, dance and theater.

Children are encouraged to visit the art center and try their hand at sculpting free of charge on Saturdays.

Classes started in February of this year with four adult classes offered per week, and c hildren’s classes offered on the weekends free of charge. More classes will be added to the schedule starting in April, according to Treasurer Kim Markham.

The center cost approximately $30,000 in renovations. Those costs were paid for through grants from the Friends of Hawaii Charity and the Atherton Foundation, as well as fundraising by board members and volunteers.

Their most recent fundraiser, Soup R Bowl, took place on Saturday and is expected to net $4,000 in revenue, which will nearly cover the costs of the four new pottery wheels that were just installed this week, according to Markham.

“There’s so much artistic talent on this island,” said Gladys Stenen, volunteer and active member of the Art Center. “The community really needed [the center].”

This space is currently operating under a five-year lease, so the Board of Directors is looking for a more permanent space. Still, when asked about the future of the arts center, Bennett is optimistic.

“This is only the beginning,” he said.

For more information or to sign up for memberships online, please visit molokaiartscenter.com.

Photos Courtesy of Leslie Hibner.  


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