story by Rose Kahele
photo by Ann Cecil
Is it a surfboard graveyard? An art gallery? A recording studio? A raucous house party?
Resurrection City, located in the back of Hale‘iwa’s North Shore Marketplace, is packed with musical instruments (including a baby grand piano), electronic equipment and wall-to-wall artistic energy. And it’s where Ron Artis paints on broken surfboards, makes music with his three sons and is having the time of his life. “To be authentic, the artist must innovate and have the guts to go beyond where anyone else has gone,” says Ron. “Resurrection City is sort of an artistic no-man’s land.”
He should know, having pushed the artistic envelope for decades. A one-time studio musician, musical director and composer, Artis worked in Los Angeles with such superstars as Van Halen, Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan and Michael Jackson. He left L.A. and the industry in 1989, going on open art galleries in Beverly Hills and Fresno before moving to Hawai‘i in the early ’90s. Since then he’s painted more than 800 murals throughout the Islands, as well as dozens of others aboard U.S. Navy warships stationed at Pearl Harbor. Four years ago, he moved his family to Hale‘iwa, the only place in the world where he felt he could practice his unique brand of self-expression.
Last year, Artis began playing with his sons Ronnie (guitar and keyboard), Stevon (drums) and Victor (bass). The family band plays an average of five thirty-minute sets a day—impromptu performances with the music often selected after a brief discussion with their visitors. Since the Artis family records every note of their music, customers can purchase their own concert, which comes with a personalized CD cover.
Right now, things may seem a little cramped at Resurrection City, but Artis plans to expand. He’s got a Steinway piano on the way and he and his wife, Victoria, have eight more children, who will be joining the family band someday. “We’re going to build our own theater right here on the North Shore,” says Artis. “As it grows it will be more powerful than Carnegie Hall.” Maybe, maybe not. But it will certainly be more colorful.