Kilaueas Volcano Art Center Gallery is hot attraction

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VOLCANO -- The Volcano Art Center Gallery may not be the center of attention at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but then its business isnt to compete with Kilauea volcano, the focus of what is, by far, the most visited destination on the Big Island.

Yet those who come to see Kilauea and to walk right up next to its glowing lava would be remiss not to stop at the gallery just inside the park entrance.

The stroll from the parks visitor center gives a good view of the old shingled building the gallery calls home.

Built in 1877 as a replacement for the grass shack that had served as the only hotel near the volcanos erupting Halemaumau crater, the structure recalls its frontier past with hand-hewn posts and rafters of native ohia wood.

In its life as a remote hostelry known as the Volcano House Hotel, the building had six guest rooms and a common room with an enormous fireplace.

Today, the rooms are filled with quality art created by artists who have been inspired by Kilauea Volcano, many of them from the Big Island, some from just down the street in Volcano Village, which is dotted with artists home studios.

Some 250 artists working in many media show their work in the Volcano Art Center Gallery. Youll see paintings, photography, ceramics, glass, wood, fiber, even lava molded while still molten.

Prices range from $5 for woodblock prints depicting Hawaiian legends to $12,000 for a giant hand-carved ... well, you just have to see it and decide for yourself what it is.

And the art flows outside. On certain days during the year, artists demonstrate their craft on the gallerys lanai.

Its impossible not to be aesthetically inspired as you sit on this covered porch, with mist rolling through the forest, while you learn from a Hawaiian auntie how to weave a lei made from leaves and flowers picked from native plants growing nearby.

The nonprofit art center also sponsors Hawaiian music concerts during the year as well as workshops on topics ranging from Hawaiian language to photography, painting, poetry, drama and music. Some of these take place at the art centers newly opened annex in Volcano Village. Customized group programs for visitors of all ages can be arranged through the art center.

The programs also can take the form of lectures, field trips, visits to artists studios or performances. The programs can include transportation and meals if desired.

For more information, call (866) 967-7565 or visit www.volcanoartcenter.org.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].

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