Story by Julia Steele
Photos by Jack Wolford
You don’t expect, walking into a toilet stall, to see an original piece of art by one of Hawai‘i’s most iconic twentieth-century artists. But there it is, hanging right next to the commode: a 1930s black-and-white study of a young woman in a grass skirt done by John Kelly, a man who spent the better part of his life creating some of the Islands’ most celebrated images. To be fair, though, this isn’t just any toilet stall, it’s a Four Seasons toilet stall. And this isn’t the only original Kelly on the premises. In fact, the Four Seasons Hualalai is home to dozens of Kelly’s works, which hang throughout the property along with other significant pieces from Hawai‘i’s art world. The entire lobby of the Big Island resort has a touch of the museum to it: There is a vivid study of Kilauea’s Halema‘uma‘u Crater by the landscape master Howard Hitchcock and a graceful black-on-gold portrait by Madge Tennant, perhaps the Islands’ finest female painter of the last hundred years. Above the reception desk hang six differing wooden canoe paddles crafted between 1900 and 1940, and by the porte-cochère sit two coconut goblets whose lids bear the mark of King David Kalakaua. Other three-dimensional art pieces at the resort include an intricate Hawaiian warrior’s helmet woven together by Patrick Horimoto using‘ie‘ie vines and golden pheasant feathers; a large, rare mat woven circa 1850 from the leaves of the makaloa plant; and a robe made out of kapa (bark cloth) worn by a missionary in the 1820s.
Art-in-residence: Pieces at the Four Seasons Hualalai resort include Lionel Walden's 1932 Lampfires.
In total there are some hundred works of art on display at the Four Seasons Hualalai; the collection was put together by Julie Cline, who also created a more contemporary art collection for the Four Seasons Wailea on Maui. Anyone who wishes to see the art is welcome to stop by the Hualalai resort — but only women are welcome to see Kelly’s Grass Skirt and, of course, half of us will never know what’s in the men’s room.