If Our Walls Could Talk :: West Hawaii Art Community

West Hawaii arts communityAs you lounge in the myriad of rooms at the Holualoa Inn, or stroll through the public spaces enjoying the warm tropical setting, you may see the work of several local artists on the walls. There is a backstory of Aloha and philanthropy permeating the Inn within these works of art.

The showcased art is a reminder of the passion for creativity and community the owners, Cassandra and Paul Hazen, have within the Holualoa and West Hawaii art community and the focus for their family foundation. It was a twist of fate that Cassandra even came to own the Holualoa Inn so she COULD give back to the community.

Here’s the story- Cassandra stumbled upon the Holualoa Inn while exploring the quaint town which is known for its art galleries. When she wanted a tour of the Inn, she was turned away because the Inn was too busy. Undeterred she returned and viewed the Inn and explored the gardens. She then went home and sat by the ocean talking to the turtles and told them, “If you are here tomorrow, I am going to buy the Inn.” Needless to say, the turtles returned -she did not know they come back to the same spot each day!

Cassandra and Paul HazenFrom that experience, you can now understand why Cassandra and Paul’s company name is Turtle Bay Enterprises.  The business they created is about the journey of enjoying Hawaii and the fun of being part of running a dynamic, innovative and artful boutique inn.  Cassandra has elevated the Holualoa Inn to a whole new level when the Inn won the 2014 Fodor’s Top 100 award. The award was an achievement for the hospitality they provide at the Inn, but it flows to how the couple integrates their love for the Inn to the care they provide the community through their Foundation.

Below are the local beneficiaries that blend art, education and Hawaiian culture into their organizations:

Donkey Mill Art CenterThe Donkey Mill Art Center, only a few miles down the road from the Inn on Mamalahoa Highway, is one of the most well-known art institutions for local artists in Hawaii. The Donkey Mill is a “gathering place where people develop as creative, conscious, and healthy human beings through art education and experience”. Their mission of “building a better world through art” melds with Paul and Cassandra’s vision for the world and their enjoyment of supporting local artists.

Jean Greenwell ArchivesKeeping in line with Paul and Cassandra’s vision of supporting organizations that lend vibrancy and connection to the community, they also proudly support the Kona Historical Society, a 15-minute drive on Highway 11 from the Inn. The Kona Historical Society is a community based, non-profit organization that was founded in 1976 to collect, preserve and share the history of the Kona districts supported by over 1000 members internationally. The society maintains two historic sites in South Kona and the Jean Greenwell Archives, which boasts the largest photograph collection on the Big Island: over 140 maps; many rare and out-of-print books; historical records including manuscripts, pamphlets and oral history interviews; and films and videotapes of Kona.

Na Koa FoundationA recent beneficiary is The Na Koa Foundation, which has connected with more than 4,000 students in the Hawaii Island community since it was formed three years ago. The Foundation’s mission is to help participants examine the Hawaiian sailing canoe from its forest origin to the ocean while inspiring a thirst for knowledge, promoting good decision-making, self-reliance and sustainability, and ultimately helping participants become competent future leaders. The Nakoa Foundation’s focus is to create a sense of place through each sailing experience to help develop skills and cultural values needed to navigate life’s challenges. The sailing canoe departs from Keauhou Bay, only a 15-minute drive from the Inn off of the Ali’i Highway, six miles south of downtown Kailua Kona.

“Our kuleana (responsibility) to the island is to respect the Hawaiian culture, encourage and support local artists who bring the island to life through their work and share it with the world, and to support education which keeps the stories and history of Hawaii alive,” explains Cassandra. “We are very fortunate to be able to support these amazing organizations and the people who benefit from the work they do.”

If you would like to view the artwork within the public spaces of the Inn and you are not a guest, please contact us beforehand so we can arrange for you to visit.

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