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HOEA, PIKO Gallery on WCA agenda (April 7)


One of Waimea’s unintentionally well-kept secrets is a still new native Hawaiian arts education “school,” which is the living legacy of the late Hiko Hanapi, a visionary Hawaiian artist who dreamed of creating an accredited fine arts educational program for Native Hawaiians that also would nurture cultural self esteem as well as economic opportunity.

Called “Hawaiian Ohana for Education In The Arts,” or HOEA, the program offers a certificated studio art education program in Waimea that addresses the needs of both recent high school graduates who want to pursue a post-secondary level arts training, and emerging adult artists whose aim is to take their art skills to higher levels by working closely with Hawaiian and indigenous masters.

Waimea’s HOEA fine arts school and its public showcase for artists, called the PIKO Gallery, will be the focus of this week’s Waimea Community Association Town Meeting at 5:15 p.m., Thursday, April 7.

Everyone is welcome to the meeting which is being relocated to the PIKO Gallery, instead of the usual Waimea School Cafeteria location.

PIKO Gallery is located in the former Parker Ranch Museum in the back of Parker Ranch Center next to Lilikoi Cafe. Everyone is invited and there is no charge to participate in any WCA Town Meeting.

This special meeting will begin with a brief introduction to PIKO Gallery’s current exhibit by “the skilled hands and hearts” of nearly 50 Waimea Hawaiian artists.

This includes keiki to kupuna – from a 5-year-old kapa beater and 10-year-old student photographer to a 95-year-old quilter and painter, as well as the creative works of dozens of weavers, feather lei masters, jewelry, fiber and floral artists, carvers, woodworkers, painters and more.

HOEA director, Fran Sanford, along with several volunteer board members and PIKO Gallery manager, Jennifer Bryan, will tell about how the organization grew out of a first-ever gathering in 2007 here in Waimea of indigenous artists from across Hawaii and the Pacific. That gathering, called PIKO, inspired Hiko Hanapi, with the support of the assembled artists, to launch HOEA’s certified studio program in 2009.

Classes have continued and the next series of intensive sessions will be a four-week Summer Session (June 13-July 8) and a two-week Winter Session (Dec. 12-22). Participants receive 160 hours of instruction during the Summer Session and 70 hours of learning and a final assessment resulting in a certificate of completion during the Winter Session.

Between summer and winter sessions, students will continue to create art and participate in HOEA Market.

Attendees at Thursday’s WCA Town Meeting also will enjoy a glimpse of how Waimea’s beautiful PIKO Gallery is helping Waimea schools fill an educational gap created by the federal No Child Left Behind mandates that focus exclusively on reading and math.

With the pressure on to meet or exceed NCLB benchmarks in reading and math, many schools — in Hawaii and across the country — have dropped or minimized arts education.

Because of this, Waimea teachers have recently started using PIKO Gallery as an “alternative learning center” to introduce standards-based lessons to students, showcase Paahana (hard, industrious work) through various mediums of art, and let students know that opportunities for them to dream do exist, said Waimea Middle School’s Ike Hawaii Resource Teacher and kumu hula Pua Case. In fact, three WMS students are currently showing their art pieces at the gallery this month.

“At Waimea Middle School, our teachers understand how important the arts and cultural experiences are to student learning and engagement, so they decided to integrate arts and cultural lessons into standards-based reading, science and social studies,” WMS CEEO/Principal John Colson said.

Kumu Case saw the PIKO Gallery exhibits as an exciting way to help students to connect culture through art to core curriculum and it was possible because of the partnership formed between the school and the gallery staff, and easy because it is within walking distance of the school.

“Our teachers were eager to go beyond the textbook to make lessons relevant and meaningful. For example, when PIKO Gallery exhibit featured photos and artifacts of the first voyage of the Hokulea sailing canoe to Tahiti, our WMS teachers created Research and Date Collection worksheets that guided students to find specific pieces of information hidden in images and art pieces that helped fulfill social studies benchmarks related to the History of the Hawaiian Kingdom and Pacific Island Studies,” Case said.

The result was that students carefully studied the exhibit to gather data. Also, Chadd Paishon, who was an early Hokulea crew member and is now a master navigator in his own right, discussed the exhibit with the students, thereby helping them answer the Essential Question for the day: “Were The Polynesian Navigators Scientists?”

The resounding student answer after examining the exhibit and listening to and questioning Paishon was: Yes – and they knew exactly why this was true, Case said.

Other “lessons” experienced in the gallery have included learning about, and then writing a personal memoir for Language Arts, and, for science classes, studying the unique geology and weather characteristics of the Waimea landscape and relating this to art pieces in the gallery, and in the process, learning to better understand the “story” different artists were sharing via their artwork.

“Waimea’s PIKO Gallery has provided for our students the means to go beyond the pages of their textbooks. What they learn there will serve as a reference for classroom lessons that will follow. Students are always totally focused when visiting PIKO Gallery,” Case said.

The late Hiko Hanapi would be pleased – not just to see the level of art his school’s students are creating, but to also know that it is being appreciated by both gallery customers and students whose written testimony is often priceless, such as: “I think different mediums teach me different sides of the same story.”

All who attend WCA monthly Town Meetings are asked to continue the association’s commitment to supporting Waimea’s food pantries by bringing a donation – preferably cash or a check or KTA Sav-A-Tapes and Foodland Makai My Rewards – or non-perishable food items. Cash or checks are given to the Waimea pantries to purchase vegetables, fruit and milk as well as other essentials.

Checks may be payable directly to a food pantry so the donation is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

For more information about Waimea Community Association, call president Sherman Warner at 885-1725 or vista

PIKO Gallery is open to the public free of charge from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For more information about HOEA and PIKO Gallery, visit

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