We were immediately in awe as we drank in the most spectacular wooden sculpture of a mermaid, obviously a work in progress, surrounded by coral, turtles and other sea life. The mermaid was looking up with abandon towards the sky, while her long hair flowed carelessly behind her. The detail in the unfinished carving was simply amazing so we can't wait to see it in all its glory after completion.
The artist was nowhere around, so when I got home I did a google search and found out his name is Dale Zarrella and that he creates his masterpieces from an inspiring location on his Maui oceanfront property, just north of Charley Young Beach in Kihei.
I read that there are collections of his works at the Grand Wailea Resort, the Makena Golf and Beach Resort and at the Frank Lloyd Wright designed King Kamehameha Golf Club. One of his famous pieces is a bronze statue of Father Damien, which was completed in 2012 and blessed by Pope Benedict XVl at the Vatican. He apparently began this sculpture with a plaster study, and a bronze cast made from the study is now at the Vatican museum in Rome. The life sized sculpture fashioned out of Koa wood will eventually end up in the Honolulu Damien museum. I watched a very interesting video, of Dale Zarrella speaking about all the research he did before starting the sculpture. He puts his whole heart and soul into every piece he creates and finds out all he can about his subject before he begins to work. For example he visited the leper colony of Kalaupapa on Molokai, several times before he started that project.
I also learned that he gives a guided tour of four of his major works at the Makena Golf and Beach Resort each Wednesday evening. The free tour lasts around an hour and you have the choice of staying on for a private dinner with the artist for a fee. Phone the resort for more details on this. Our friends went and thoroughly enjoyed it. They said he was a terrific speaker, very genuine, and exceptionally humble even in light of all his great accomplishments.
His most recent piece, and the one we saw, was started in April of 2013 from a 5000 lb. old Monkey Pod tree stump.
Dale Zarrella brings his18 years of experience working as caretaker of a turtle sanctuary on the Big Isle, to Maui, and this apparently is what inspired him to paint and carve the sea life of Hawaii. His paintings can be found in many galleries and private collections around the world.
What a treat to find out about this extremely talented and diverse artist, who works with bronze, wood, stone and paint. Unfortunately before we left Maui we didn't get a chance to meet him so when we get back we are going to make a point of going to all his galleries and attend his Wednesday night tour.
For more information visit the Dale Zarrella website. Here you will find photos of many of his works and links to his videos.
If you need a place to stay for your Maui vacation, our Maui Garden House is only a few minutes by car to Charley Young Beach.