Haleiwa Art Festival

Artists display their works on canvas

More than just a shave ice destination, Haleiwa has groomed local aspiring artists for nearly two decades. The weekend of July 19 to 20 will carry on the tradition of artistic expression as the 16th annual Haleiwa Arts Festival will commence at Haleiwa Beach Park.

“It’s a great way for people to get a taste of local art and culture,” says Dawn Dasilveira, whose passion for the arts in the North Shore community led her to become the executive director of the Haleiwa Arts Festival in 2012. “Treasured artworks become keepsake ornaments for visitors, especially tourists, when they browse through over 100 art vendor booths.

“A lot of people who come to visit the islands, it’s like a dream come true for them,” she says. “Some save for their whole lives to come to Hawaii and every artist takes that into consideration for their pieces that will be on display. It’s a great way for the artists to capture that moment and their special style while building a lifelong rapport with each customer.”

Artist Mark Howard knows very well about creating and sustaining relationships with his customers. In his fourth year participating at the Haleiwa Arts Festival, Howard is more than happy to create “happiness” for those who want a piece of his work to put in their home.

“Art is such a personal thing for someone to buy,” Howard smiles. “I had this one customer who balled her eyes out because the Haleiwa Arts Gallery had sold the last painting of this palm tree I painted.”

The art piece was nothing too extravagant, but the customer loved the realism of the colors and natural light Howard was able to pull through the secluded spot he calls “Untouched Hawaii.” When the gallery asked him if he could paint another original for the distraught customer, Howard initially winced but agreed after they told him she was “crying.”

“I caved,” Howard says with a hearty laugh. “So for me, it’s that much more of an honor to be able to give people my paintings. It’s such an amazing thing for me to be a part of their whole experience and contribute to their home.”

Government worker by day and an artist “every moment thereafter,” Howard was ecstatic to learn that he was selected to be this year’s featured poster artist, an annual tradition since the Haleiwa Arts Festival’s first event in 1998. Since then  featured artists have included Wyland, Rebecca Gates and last year’s first photographer artist, Clark Little.

“Oh boy, I had goosebumps,” recalls Howard when he took the phone call from Dasilveira. “I just couldn’t believe my ears when [Dawn] called me. It was a wonderful surprise.”

A young boy is the center focus of the poster as he sits and eats his first shave ice outside of Aoki’s historic shop. There is a bustle of people around him but he doesn’t notice as he smiles up at his mother and the warm summer light shines brightly on the faded red-wooded shop, reminding the viewer of the simple joys of everyday moments.

“(Mark) Aoki’s piece just came together and translated so well as our feature poster,” Dasilveira says. “It really embodied the essence of the Haleiwa Arts Festival. A wonderful summer day filled with a sense of community.”

Community has been the major theme of the festival for quite some time. Since 1997, local artists were in abundance in Haleiwa and eventually a small group of them decided to create their own organization to showcase their artwork. Steadfast and determined, they successfully created the Haleiwa Arts Festival the following year as a formal non-profit organization.  Soon sculptors, photographers, jewelry designers, wood-crafters and performers joined into the mix and snowballed into a visual arts showcase that highlights the community’s need for “art and culture awareness, education and participation.”

This year, the festival will push for an eco-friendly theme. Dasilveira believes it is important for the festival to give back to the community by respecting the very environment that many artists use for their inspiration.

“The Haleiwa Arts Festival celebrates art but it also celebrates our community’s sustainability efforts,” she says. “We hope to produce zero waste with a recycling program; compost station; emphasizing no plastic water bottles. It’s an opportune time to reflect and make people aware of their actions to the environment.”

Along with 136 local artists in attendance, there will be food stands, games for the keiki, merchandise and souvenirs, and live entertainment. Visit Howard at booth number 47, where he will be more than happy to see and meet you.

“The Haleiwa Arts Festival is my biggest event,” he says. “I can’t wait to see old friends and meet new people. That’s what this event is all about.”

For more information about the Haleiwa Arts Festival, go to their official website at www.haleiwaartsfestival.org