Maui is home to many creators of local art. Culture and tradition lives on in the practice of paintings, carvings, textiles, music and dance. Experiencing local art on Maui in any of these forms is an ideal way to appreciate Hawaii in an authentic and culturally respectful approach. Creativity spans generations, with each artist developing their own unique style. Here on Maui, the Sabado family is one of pure creative talents, sharing many forms of art with purpose.
Preserving Culture Through Art
Jackie Sabado Eitel comes from a family of artists. Born and raised on Maui, her father grew up on the island of Molokai and is well known in the world of Hawaiian fine art. Many of his paintings contain Hawaiian royalty, goddesses, plants and animals. All of them have a story and help to perpetuate Hawaiian culture. It’s this story that makes Philip Sabado art so special and it’s Jackie’s local art on Maui story that is told through much of her own designs.
For over a decade, Jackie and her husband could be found at the local craft fairs, festivals and street parties. Their unique screen printed t shirts have been a popular souvenir for visitors, featuring iconic Hawaiian imagery such as whales, mermaids, sharks and pineapples.
Handmade With ALOHA
Last year Jackie made lemonade from the 2020 lemons that forced many other local small businesses to close up shop. While festivals and street fairs were a thing of the past, Paradise Now opened as a brick and mortar storefront on Market Street in the town of Wailuku. No longer confined to a 10x10 pop up of souvenir t shirts, the walls of the shop are decorated with a gallery of paintings in Jackie’s signature style. Prints come in many different sizes, as well as on greeting cards, magnets and framed wall hangings. Combining traditional culture with modern trends, Paradise Now clothing is truly wearable local art on Maui.
I had the pleasure of watching Jackie create screen printed shirts and handbags using her custom designs. She draws the art, creates a stencil and prints the apparel right there in the store. Call it old school, but watching an artist actually create an entire shop of wearable and frame-able artwork is pretty unique and admirable.
Storytelling Through Artist Collaborations
As the paint dries on my new octopus (he’e in Hawaiian and representing good luck) hand bag, Jackie tells me more about where she comes from as well as an exciting upcoming collaboration with Maui Wine. She is designing three wine bottle labels as the featured artist of the year, a honor bestowed first to her father many years ago. The story of mauka (mountains) to makai (ocean) will be depicted on the series of sparkling wine labels, from the Jacaranda on the hillsides of the winery, celebrating all the way to the shoreline below. Bubbles will be represented using plumeria flowers, indicative of many of Jackie’s designs.
Another recent collaboration had Jackie installing a fence line mosaic of the o’opu fish migration up the Wailuku River after birth. Inspiration for this local art on Maui installation came during the middle of the pandemic where she was able to experience visually seeing a thriving amount of oʻopu in Iao valley and was also inspired by the community members who have been advocating for the Mauka to Makai access for the circle of the both endemic and indigenous fish.
Shop Small Business
Whether you’re shopping for souvenirs of your Maui vacation, renting snorkel gear or booking a sunset dinner cruise, be sure to shop local art on Maui and support small business. Not only will you be providing livelihood to those depending on a thriving visitor industry, but it is also the very best way to find unique products that represent the culture of Hawaii. It’s beautiful art with a story that is sure to bring back that feeling described only as pure ALOHA.