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The Lahaina Fires: A Local Artist's Perspective on Tragedy and Resilience

The Lahaina Fires

Before Lahaina Fires
Waiola Church

The Lahaina fires have left a devastating impact on our community, affecting not only homes and landscapes but also the vibrant art scene that defines Lahaina. Front Street, ranked one of the "Top Ten Greatest Streets" by the American Planning Association, has been particularly affected. As a local artist who has worked with the Lahaina Art Society, Maui Hands Galleries, Lahaina Galleries, Holle Gallery, and Rafael Gallery, I find myself reflecting on both the tragedy and resilience within our art community.

Lahaina's Artistic Heartbeat

Lahaina's art scene is a pulsating heartbeat of creativity, home to galleries like Maui Hands, Holle Gallery, Roy Tabora, Wyland, and local artists such as Ruby Mazur, who tragically lost his brand new gallery, Wayland, Vladimir Kush, Roy Tabora, and others. The Lahaina Art Society has been a nurturing ground for many local artists. The loss of Fleetwood's on Front Street, a Lahaina restaurant owned by Mick Fleetwood, is a poignant symbol of the fires' destruction.

Before Lahaina Fires
Maria Lanakila

I've had the privilege to capture the essence of Lahaina through my collection of Plein Air paintings of local historic churches, including Maria Lanakila, Waiola Church, Holly Innocents, and Lahaina United Methodist Church. These churches, now lost to the fire, were more than art; they were a part of Lahaina's soul.

The Fires' Immediate Impact

On August 8th, I found myself evacuating my home and studio in Lahaina. The destruction caused by the fires has been immense, particularly in art-related venues. Almost all businesses on Front Street were lost. The loss of the Na ‘Aikane o Maui Cultural Center, home of the Lahaina Art Society, is a blow to our artistic heritage.

Tragedy Through an Artist's Lens

The emotional and symbolic significance of these fires for our art community is profound. Lahaina's historic churches, like Waiola Church and Maria Lanakila Catholic Church, have been engulfed by the flames, a sight that filled the hearts of many with dismay. These churches were not just places of worship but also a part of our cultural heritage, captured in my collection of Plein Air paintings.

The loss of these historic structures is a personal reflection of the broader loss we all feel. Art captures the essence of tragedy, loss, and hope, and these paintings now stand as a poignant reminder of what once was. The Banyan Tree Fine Art Gallery, housed inside an old courthouse and jail, and the historic Waiola Church are examples of how deeply the fires have impacted our artistic landscape.

As we mourn the loss of these cultural treasures, we also recognize the power of art to heal and rebuild. The resilience of our community and the enduring spirit of creativity will guide us through these trying times.

Before Lahaina Fires
Holly Innocents Church Lahaina Front Street

Resilience and Rebuilding

Despite the tragedy, our art community is resilient. Efforts to rebuild and support are already underway, including fundraisers and community initiatives. I encourage you to support the most trusted fundraisers to help Maui fire victims, such as Hawaii Community Foundation Maui Strong fund.

A Vision for the Future

The lessons learned from this tragedy guide our path forward. Our vision for Lahaina's art community is one of creativity, collaboration, and enduring spirit.

The Lahaina fires have been a profound reminder of both the fragility and resilience of our artistic heritage. As we look to the future, our vision for Lahaina's art community is not merely one of recovery but of rebirth, innovation, and collaboration.

Our path forward is illuminated by the spirit of aloha, a guiding principle that fosters unity, compassion, and creativity. We envision a Lahaina where art is not just a reflection of our past but a beacon for our future, where every brushstroke captures the essence of our island's beauty, joy, and enduring spirit.

We will rebuild, not just the physical structures but the very soul of our art community. The galleries, churches, and cultural centers will rise again, infused with new energy, new voices, and new visions. We will embrace the lessons learned from this tragedy, turning them into opportunities for growth and transformation.

Our commitment to collaboration will see artists, galleries, and community members working hand in hand, nurturing local talent, and fostering a culture of creativity that transcends boundaries. We will continue to celebrate the unique perspectives of local artists, including the vibrant tradition of live wedding paintings, capturing the love and landscape of Maui in each masterpiece.

The future of Lahaina's art community is a tapestry woven with threads of hope, resilience, and innovation. Together, we will create a legacy that honors our past, embraces our present, and inspires our future.

I invite you, dear readers, to be part of this beautiful journey. Engage with our art, support our artists, and let the spirit of creativity and aloha guide you. Your participation is not just a contribution to our community; it's a celebration of what makes Lahaina truly special.

Mahalo, and may the spirit of aloha continue to inspire us all.

Before Lahaina Fires Lahaina United Metodist Church in Front Street Before Lahaina Fires
Lahaina United Metodist Church in Front Street Before Lahaina Fires

A Heartfelt Mahalo to Our Heroes

In the midst of tragedy, the courage and dedication of our first responders have been a beacon of hope. I want to extend a heartfelt mahalo to all the firefighters who have battled the flames tirelessly, risking their lives to save our community.

The authorities, volunteers, elected officials, and organizations like FEMA have worked hand in hand to provide support, aid, and guidance during these trying times. Their coordinated efforts have not only helped in containing the fires but also in providing relief to those affected.

The spirit of aloha has been evident in every helping hand, every comforting word, and every act of kindness. It's a reminder that we are not alone, and that in times of crisis, our community comes together as one 'ohana.

To all those who have played a part in responding to this tragedy, your efforts are deeply appreciated. Your bravery, compassion, and resilience are a testament to the strength of our community. Mahalo nui loa, and may your dedication continue to inspire us all.


In the wake of the Lahaina fires, the echoes of tragedy reverberate through our hearts, but it is the melody of resilience that defines our path forward. As an artist who has captured the essence of Maui's beauty, joy, and enduring spirit, I see not just the ashes but the opportunity for rebirth, innovation, and collaboration.

Our art community, rich with creativity and collaboration, is more than structures and paintings; it's the soul of Lahaina. The flames may have taken away physical manifestations, but they cannot diminish our aloha spirit, our unity, compassion, and creativity.

I invite you, dear readers, to be part of our beautiful journey of rebuilding. Engage with our art, support our artists, and let the spirit of creativity and aloha guide you. Whether through visits, purchases, or commissioning unique pieces like live wedding paintings, your participation is a celebration of what makes Lahaina truly special.

Together, we will weave a new tapestry, one that honors our past, embraces our present, and inspires our future. Your support for Lahaina's art community is not just a contribution; it's a testament to the power of art in healing, community building, and cultural preservation.

Mahalo nui loa, dear readers. Stay strong, stay inspired, and may the spirit of aloha continue to guide us all.

Call to Action

Please consider supporting local artists, galleries, and recovery efforts. Engage with Lahaina's art community through visits, purchases, and participation in cultural events. Commission art from local artists, including wedding paintings, to keep the spirit of creativity alive.

This article emphasizes my unique perspective as a local artist, weaving together the themes of tragedy and resilience. It offers a heartfelt exploration of Lahaina's art community in the face of adversity. Mahalo, and stay strong.

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