Historical surf session: Painting of princes in California wins Wailoa’s Imagine 2017 People’s Choice Award

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The Hawaii Island Art Alliance sponsored the Wailoa Center’s first Imagine 2017: Fine Art Expo, which concluded at the end of June with about 1,400 visitors attending the exhibit throughout the month.

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The Hawaii Island Art Alliance sponsored the Wailoa Center’s first Imagine 2017: Fine Art Expo, which concluded at the end of June with about 1,400 visitors attending the exhibit throughout the month.

Visitors were asked to cast their vote for their favorite art piece to determine the People’s Choice Award. After the ballots were counted, the award was presented to artist Ken Charon for his large canvas painting titled “Hawaiian Princes Surf the First California Wave, Santa Cruz, 1885.”

Charon’s research of the painting yields a caption which goes on to describe:

“On Sunday, July 19, 1885, three Hawaiian princes, Jonah Kuhiokalanianaole, 14, David Kawananakoa, 17, and Edward Keliiahonui, 16, demonstrated surfing for the very first time in Santa Cruz, California. Prince Kuhio’s redwood surfboard, recently rediscovered in the Bishop Museum, along with Prince Kawananakoa’s, is of the ‘olo’ variety, for chiefs only, and measures 17 feet 8 inches long. It weighs 175 pounds and is 6 1/2 inches thick.

“These three boards had been shaped by Grover Lumber Co. to the princes’ specifications, not having ever seen one before. They dazzled the weekend beachgoers who had come in for the weekend from the nearby cities by trains and then streetcars to enjoy the busiest and most beautiful Sunday of the season, as reported the next day in the local newspaper, The Daily Surf.

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“The breakers they surfed at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River, where the amusement park now stands, were said to be ‘very fine.’”

The Hawaii Island Art Alliance is looking forward to Imagine 2018: Fine Art Expo next June. HIAA extends its “mahalo” to all the artists who participated and for their support of art in the community.

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