Through June 6 the Kauai Museum will feature an exhibit of 36 restored paintings by Garden Isle artist A.R. Gurrey Sr.
Born in England in 1852, Gurrey developed a passion for painting seascapes at a relatively young age. During the better part of his life, however, that passion remained primarily just a hobby. Gurrey first traveled to the U.S. at age 20 and later worked in insurance in San Francisco until 1900. From there he traveled to Honolulu. There, he continued to earn a living in insurance through 1916, after which he retired and joined his daughter and her husband on Kauai.
While living in Honolulu, Gurrey exhibited some of his work as part of the Kilohana Art League, but he started painting in earnest after his move to Kauai. He eventually purchased small properties there at Hanalei, Kalihiwai and Po'ipu where he built wooden "tents" for extended painting expeditions. It didn't take Gurrey too long to make a name for himself on Kauai as a painter, and he was soon the island's most revered artist.
A 1918 profile, in fact, appearing in a local publication, the Garden Island, said of Gurrey: "Kauai is home of one of the greatest artists that the United States can boast of, and the world has known it not. ... We think his marine views are sufficiently beautiful, grand and impressive to attract attention in any art center of the United States. ... Mr. Gurrey doesn't have to advertise, nor to ask favors of anyone."
Gurrey would go on to host annual exhibitions just before Christmas from 1920 through 1926, and collectors across Kauai were eager to buy his work. Today many of his paintings can still be found in the homes for which they were originally purchased.
The Kauai Museum's collection of Gurrey's oil paintings were a gift from the artist's grandson, Walter G. Bayer. Recently restored by conservator Gregory Thomas, thanks to funding provided by the Waimakua Foundation and the Mary S. Rice Estate, the 36 works offer visitors an excellent opportunity to look back in time at some of Kauai's most extraordinary natural beauty.