Kane collection unveiled at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel

Herb Kane's work graces the lobby. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

By Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Both towers of rooms and suites have re-opened, but the $35 million renovation of King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel had to wait until Wednesday afternoon for its crowning touch.

Acclaimed historian and artist Herb Kawainui Kane attended an informal ‘talk story’ reception to introduce the largest single hotel collection of his work.

Kane welcomed special guests and talked about the 40 signed and numbered limited-edition giclees that grace the breezeway, between the main lobby and west tower.

The display depicts early Hawaiian lifestyles and legends, through modern day. Portraits of alii (royalty), gods and goddesses, voyages, entertainers and more share stories of Hawaii’s vibrant past and present.

Asked if he has a favorite image or work, Kane is quick to answer.

“They are all my children,” he said. “What parent can pick just one favorite?”

Kane said he has long drawn inspiration from the people who came before him.

“I’m very intrigued by history, as we all should be,” he said, noting the collection has found a home in the same area where King Kamehameha the Great last resided.

“Kamakahonu, the site of the King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, is historically significant. I couldn’t think of a better place to house this collection,” Kane said. “If my art can contribute to the comprehension and understanding of Hawaii’s past, I have succeeded.”

The new collection joins an original by Kane that was restored during the renovation – an oil depicting Kamehameha I, his family, and advisors at Kamakahonu, the bay that fronts the hotel.

Original pieces that have been part of the lobby display for decades include a treasured feather cape or ahuula, feathered helmet or mahiole, feather lei, war weapons, and lei niho palaoa (lei of braided human hair and a whale or walrus tooth, usually worn only by royalty).

“We are so excited and honored to be able to showcase some of Herb Kane’s most brilliant pieces,” said Jak Hu, general manager of the hotel. “Walking through the display is like taking a journey back in time, one in which Herb Kane has been able to capture on canvas.”

Fanny Au Hoy, Hulihee Palace administrator, said she was delighted to see the work displayed so prominently for residents and visitors to enjoy.

“This is phenomenal, really wonderful. It’s great for Kona and shows the world what we have to offer,” she said. “Not just to share our history, but it also shows what a fantastic talent Herb is.”

Each giclee is worth about $2,000 and is mounted within a protective plastic shield. And each snapshot of history is accompanied by an informative paragraph or two.

Born in 1928, Kane was raised in Waipio Valley and Hilo, and later in Wisconsin. Kane studied at the University of Chicago and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he obtained a Masters Degree in 1953, and an honorary doctorate in 2008.

Kane’s career ranged from advertising art, publishing art, architectural design, painting, writing, and sculpture. He has published numerous books, including one of the founders of Polynesian Voyaging Society.

He currently resides in rural South Kona.

King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel sits adjacent to the National Historic Landmark Ahuena Heiau, Kamehameha I’s personal and final residence, and the center of political power in the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Kamehameha used this site as a gathering place for his kahuna (priests) and advisors to counsel and guide himself and his successor, Kamehameha II (Liholiho).

— Find out more:

Artist Herb Kane chats with guests at a reception to unveil the display. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Walking through Hawaii history. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Herb Kane and Fanny Au Hoy. (Hawaii 24/7 photo courtesy of Ken Love)

The artist. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

7 Responses to “Kane collection unveiled at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel”

  1. Fern Gavelek says:

    Your great coverage is the next best thing to being there-thanks Karin for another great report!

  2. Janet Satterfield says:

    Congratulations my dear dear brother-in-law!! You have succeeded so beautifully in relaying to the world the beauty and enchantment of the people and dynamic history of your birthplace. You are a highly and much loved treasure to us all. Your talents are boundless.

    Thank you for sharing your God given precious gifts with the world. This collection has a wonderful home. May all enjoy and feel reverent to the talent that put it all to canvas.

    Lil’ sis

  3. Carl E. Jones says:

    Congratulations, Herb.

    We certainly have moved away from the Chicago days as starving artists trying to get through school as soon as possible. Just after the War, the GI’s came back and were anxious to see the opportunities life had in a peaceful world and ART was a good place to start. You have done an excellent job depicting the history of Hawaii and the navigation that expanded the culture. Now, sit back and enjoy all that you have created with pride. Again, Congratulations!

  4. Mary Cheatle says:

    Congratulations Herb on this Wonderful Honor which is way overdue. I had the pleasure of meeting you in Kona with your son Doug many years ago. I visited your enormous Art Workshop and was absolutely astounded by the array of projects you were working on, almost simultaneously. I think you had at least 12 canvases in work and a couple of sculptures in various stages of completion.

    You did such beautiful sculptures and I saw several of them set up at various hotels in Hawaii. They were totally incredible and so majestic towering 8-9′ high with beautiful detail. I just wonder why the sculptures are not mentioned in your profiles?

    Anyway Herb, I feel privileged to have met you and your wife, Dion, and I wish you both a healthy and happy future. Your art will live forever Herb; you are the greatest artist Hawaii ever had.
    Mary in San Diego

  5. Penny Martin says:

    Aloha Herb,
    Congratulations! The display looks beautiful! Hope to see it in person and will recommend to all of my friends.
    Penny Rawlins Martin

  6. Dear Herb,

    I remember eons ago in Chicago in a small studio on Michigan Boulevard, you telling me a story about a young Hawaiian boy taking the last existing giant koa tree and making a canoe. Prophetic, yes? And it happened at Mckinley High, years ago that I saw you on the stage with friends announcing, the plans to build the Hokulea, to sail to Tahiti in ’76. Thanks for making all Hawaiians proud of their heritage. Mahalo!
    George and Irene

  7. Kaleolani Fitzgerald says:

    Herb- Mahalo Nui Loa for sharing your God given talent with those of us who are not there in person but continue to share Hawai’i’s history and culture so others may know the true people of our islands. Such beauty comes forth thru your hands showing the Kanaka Maoli as a handsome , intelligent race of people full of Aloha and it beams out of the faces you put on canvas.
    May our Creator Akua Jehovah grant you many more years to put down this beauty for the world to see his creation as He intended it to be, a true Paradise on earth full of his children and all he put there. From a greatful heart with appreciation for all your work,
    Kaleolani Fitzgerald


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