In Praise of Unknown Artists

Maybe it’s the warm tropical breeze or the salty air that inspires creativity. Whatever it is, artists abound on Kauai. But those talents can go undiscovered without a proper platform to present their work.

San Henline and Jody Mc-Cune recognized this issue seven years ago and decided to sponsor an Unknown Artists Faire, which they’re bringing back Saturday (Nov. 14) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.

The fair is intended to put undiscovered artisans on the map and help put an end to the term “starving artist.”

“We just thought it would be a great community event to bring a lot of people together who haven’t had a lot of publicity yet, and let the island know about them — people who have something to offer the community,” says McCune.

The plan is to give artists who are either just starting out or who have not yet made a name for themselves a place to showcase and sell their goods. It’s a concept that initially struck Henline in 2008 when an artistic friend needed help introducing her work to the public.

“She was really shy about getting her stuff out,” says Henline.

So the idea Henline came up with, along with McCune, her co-worker at The Beauty Shop, was to host a fair that would encourage her shy friend, as well as others, to get their work out in the open.

This year’s family-friendly event will host 30 to 40 vendors, featuring everything from photography and fine art, to body scrubs and koa furniture. Performing artists also will showcase their musical chops, and food artisans such as Ryan Taniguchi and his business partner Konane Henline (San Henline’s daughter) will be there to tempt attendees’ taste buds.

“We’re trying to focus on doing island food with a healthy twist,” says Taniguchi.

Their company, Food Porn Catering, opened in May after the chef duo graduated from Kauai Community College’s Culinary Arts Program. They plan to have several dishes available for people to enjoy at the fair, such as Persian rice salad, a Korean barbecue bowl and kim chee.

Also getting in on the artisan action this weekend are McCune’s sons Clayton and Jacob. They each plan to have some of their sketches for sale.

“If anybody wants it, they’re fortunate enough to have it,” jokes Jacob McCune of his work.

The two Kauai High School students also plan to treat participants to their musical tunes — Jacob plays guitar and Clayton plays saxophone.

“It’s something that never changes; throughout all of time, there’s always been music,” says Clayton, when asked what he loves most about music. “I think it’s very important to me because I can listen to it and relax.”

Artist Athel Schott will have her still-life paintings for sale. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to the island recently and has continued to find solace in the arts.

“When you’re looking at how the color is blending, I feel delight in myself that I can do that,” she says. “When I get the right color, I feel so happy.”

Schott is a self-taught artist who uses various mediums including oil, acrylic and pastels on unique canvases, such as sandpaper.

Another artist who will be featured at the fair is Darin Kurasaki. The creative entrepreneur recently started a create-your-own stuffed animal company, Maddy and Addy’s Animals. He founded the business after celebrating his daughter Maddy’s birthday party earlier this year: As a project for the kids, he had them make their own stuffed animals. They got to pick out their animals — from poodles and bears to elephants and cats — stuff them, choose their outfits, name them and craft a birth certificate.

“It’s a whole experience for them,” says Kurasaki.

Kids (and adult kids) will get to make their own stuffed animals at the fair – something he hopes to continue providing to clients at birthday parties and craft fairs around the island.

“I like just seeing the kids happy,” he says.

Activities like this for keiki will be plentiful at the Unknown Artists Faire. Games, a “Creation Station” for arts and crafts, and a “Pass It

Forward” area for people to exchange items are among the activities.

“This is a win-win for everybody. People can come to see new stuff and be entertained for a day,” says San Henline, who also will offer her crafts for sale.

Vendors will donate a portion of their proceeds to Kauai Ho‘ohui o Recreation — the youth program at Kalaheo Neighb orhood Center.

Please note that some vendors will only accept checks or cash.