story by Lauri Sagle
photo by MACARIO
Yellow, red and purple prayer flags punctuate the cool green landscape. Stone Buddhas quietly contemplate blades of grass. Henny, Henrietta and Fern arrive on the scene to deliver a welcoming speech—cack, cack, BAWK!—before rushing away to do whatever chickens do on a misty volcano morning. This is the way of things at Volcano Garden Arts, a gallery and artists’ collective that is becoming, on top of everything else, something of a community center near the heart of Volcano Village.
Mixed-media artist Ira Ono, the center’s principal founder and director, chooses works, mostly from regional artists, that he feels deserve more exposure. “This is my vision,” he says, “to be able to showcase contemporary art and fine craft in a historic garden setting.”
And quite a vision it is. More a constellation of structures, projects and vibrant plans than a single entity, Volcano Garden Arts is situated on three lush acres and housed primarily in an original—albeit recently renovated—1908 Volcano residence. Art is on exhibit and for sale in this main house, including paintings and collages; raku pottery and masks; tiny, pop-culture-inspired “shrines”; funky, mechanistic jewelry and many other intriguing and eclectic works. There are also open-mic performance nights, art classes and two major yearly events: On Thanksgiving weekend, it’s one stop on the Volcano Artists’ Studio Tour and in June it plays host to Artists in Action, an all-day affair offering hands-on demonstrations in pottery-making, glass-blowing, basketry and other media.
On top of all this, there is a native plant garden and a plot where tea is being grown. These, in turn, will help supply VGA’s natural foods café, slated to be up and serving by the end of summer, with the wholesome fare—enlivened, as Ono gleefully says, with “tons and tons of garlic”—presented on dishes created by local potters.
Volcano Garden Arts