June 17th, 2021 / posted by paularath

Love all the blues in the gallery, from glowing glass to shimmering indigo. And, oh my, is that a Mark Mitsuda martini glass? Yum!

“Fine craft is fine art.”

That’s the premise behind The DAC Gallery First Floor. It’s the brief summation of curator Barbara Rau’s philosophy, and how she chooses the everchanging art that graces the walls and pedestals of her Chinatown treasure trove.

Sanit Kewhok created these exquisite tiny figures on ice cream spoons!

“What I want is art that people don’t see anywhere else,” Rau explained. “I’m looking for unusual sculpture, art that isn’t the norm, a little more edgy.”

Rau herself has lived a life infused and surrounded by art. Like many gallery folks I have known, she has had numerous, and varied, jobs along the way. Her earliest job was with Crazy Shirts, followed by ownership of a graphic printing business in the pre-digital era. She learned a lot about Asian art during buying trips in Asia for the beloved antique shop Treasures of the East. She got on my radar when she was manager of The Contemporary Museum Gift Shop. Her unique eye for the unusual, paired with her eclectic and sophisticated taste, made the little shop my go-to for great gifts.

Can you guess what’s in those large wood frames? It’s wood shavings! Artist Bai Xin Chen creates a mesmerizing effect with these mundane materials as the light changes.

“Art is for enjoyment, pleasure and beauty, but also to make you inquire and think about it,” Rau said. She learned a great deal about art, as well as honing her personal taste, through her work with interior designer Kathy Merrill Kelley.

Kim Blackburn loves beads, and that’s what she used to create these tropical panels.

Don’t expect to find a plethora of paint, pottery or pretty flowers at the DAC Gallery First Floor. Many of the materials employed by the artists are off the wall, or they are traditional media treated in a refreshing new way.

Tell Me a Story is a gallery within the gallery that features lots of gifts for keiki.

DAC Gallery First Floor contains several small galleries, each of which features a theme. One of the galleries features textiles, and I am proud to be represented within it.

Honu Comes Home to Laniakea, textile work by Paula Rath

In addition, the work of my indigo mentor, Darius Homay, is featured in this gallery, as well as in several other rooms.

It includes gorgeous indigo shibori table runners, scarves, napkins and terrific cotton T-shirts like this one, which I already snatched up:

Photo courtesy Jerry Mayfield

This gallery is an ideal place to find a wide variety of reasonable gifts for house warmings, hostess gifts, baby showers, and of course birthdays and holidays.

In addition, it’s important to know that DAC Gallery First Floor is a nonprofit organization.

Those three canvases are from my “Sand & Sea” series, and the scarf (or table runner) is by indigo guru Darius Homay.


Betsy Robertson dressed up her denim with art.

Wouldn’t it be fun to meet a friend for Tea at 1024 or lunch at Fete (my favorite restaurant for a special meal) and shop the gallery?

Parking for DAC is simple, located right in the Chinatown Cultural Center. Enter the lot from Bethel Street. The Center occupies the block bordered by Nuuanu Avenue, King Street, Bethel Street and Hotel Street. Gallery hours are 11a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Paula Rath

May 28th, 2021 / posted by paularath

Remember when I used to give mall talks at Ala Moana Moana Center and Kahala Mall about how to pack for a long trip? Following the talks, I would write a story on the subject, incorporating ideas from my audiences.

Well, this is not one of those.

This is from a story I found in the Palama Settlement Archives. It’s by the late Bob Krauss, beloved writer of “Our Honolulu,” from The Honolulu Advertiser, dated February 9, 2000.

My mother, Jacky Rath, found letters her father-in-law, James A. Rath, had saved in 1905, and she shared them with Bob.

They were written in 1905 by the folks from Central Union Church who had recruited my grandfather, James A. Rath, a recent graduate in social work from Springfield College in Massachusetts.

My mother, Jacky Rath, and me at the official opening of the Palama Settlement Archives in 2010.

Jerry, my mother, Jacky Rath and me at the opening of the Palama Archives in 2010.

My grandparents were recruited in 1905 to come to Honolulu to create a social agency that could serve Honolulu’s poorest neighborhood, Palama. What they created is Palama Settlement, which turns 125 years old this year. These excerpts are from letters sent to them regarding what to pack for Hawaii – and what not to pack.

“You will be allowed by the railroads to take 350 pounds of baggage each. I should advise you to bring such furniture as you now own which can be compactly boxed.

“You need no warm clothing in Hawaii. Bring no stoves.

“Stuffed furniture is not needed here. Buy all the thin underwear you will require for some time. This should be of the thinnest kind.

“Goods of all kinds are dearer in Hawaii than in the United States. White clothes are worn a good deal by men and women.”

It was suggested that bulky items too heavy for the train could go by ship around Cape Horn.

Quite an adventure for a young man from India and his Norwegian wife, who met and fell in love in Massachusetts. And what a legacy they created: Palama Settlement!

The Palama Archives is in need of funds so we can digitize our treasure trove of Hawaii history. If you feel inclined to honor this storied social agency, please go to www.palamasettlement.org for information on how to donate. Or you can email me.


Paula Rath

May 4th, 2021 / posted by paularath

Honolulu girl Lynne O’Neill shares her decades of experience on NYC runways with UH-Manoa fashion students. Photo from the cover of MidWeek

There have been a lot of downsides to being a UH student during COVID-19. But for the fortunate seniors in the UH-Manoa Fashion Production class (FDM 430), one significant benefit has landed in their laps: the opportunity to be taught be one of the nation’s most prolific and prized fashion show producers.

Lynne O’Neill, who is originally from Honolulu, has an impressive fashion pedigree, honed primarily in New York City:

  • Producing numerous shows for New York Fashion Week
  • Executive producing HONOLULU Fashion Week 2014, 2015 and 2016 for HONOLULU magazine
  • Launching events with the Rolling Stones and Usher for client Best Buy
  • Fashion show consulting for CW’s “Gossip Girl”
  • Acting as fashion consultant for HBO’s “Sex and the City” (in which she was played by none other than Margaret Cho)
  • Serving as a fashion show expert for Bravo’s “The Fashion Show” and “Sex and the City: The Movie”
  • Countless fashion magazine spreads and retail events

O’Neill has been co-teaching the class with Amanda Stevens, an event planner and fashion writer who has assisted O’Neill backstage during both HONOLULU and New York Fashion Weeks. Under their guidance, students are producing a two-part docuseries on broadcast television featuring the 55th Annual University of Hawaii at Manoa Fashion Show, titled “Road to Runway,” as well as behind-the-scenes interviews with three senior fashion design students.

It has been quite a challenge for the students and faculty to reinvent their annual live runway fashion show as an entirely virtual event.

Now you can see the results of their prodigious labors on May 10 at 6 p.m. on ‘Olelo 53 and at 8:30 p.m. on KFVE 6 and Livestream on HawaiiNewsNow.com.

In addition, a Docuseries called “Road to Runway: Meet the Senior Fashion Design Students” can be seen during “Hawaii Fashion Now,” a TV series hosted by Andrew Reilly, PhD of U.H.-Manoa’s Fashion Design and Merchandising Program. Watch it on Olelo 53 at 10 p.m. May 5 or livestream on olelo.org/53.

It’s a great way to support Hawaii’s up-and-coming designers.

Paula Rath



April 26th, 2021 / posted by paularath

The right side of our kitchen, all pau! (The print of an orange is one of my old monoprints.)

My long time readers may remember that buying local has always been a high priority for me. My “Wear Aloha” initiative, introduced at Washington Place in 2011, asked people to wear at least one thing that is made in Hawaii every time they step out of their home. It could be an entire outfit, a pair of earrings, a handbag, a T-shirt – as long as you are wearing something made in Hawaii.

Well, now it’s 2021 and many businesses are hurting. Or, even worse, closing. Restaurants, small local retail establishments, art galleries, 170-year-old Love’s Bakery, are all gone. So it’s time to think beyond fashion when it comes to buying local.

Seth took great pride in the box he built for the microwave. Perfect!

When Jerry and I took a good hard look at our kitchen cabinets a few months ago, we realized that it was time to replace them. Rather than ordering ready made cabinets from some mainland company, we called our friend Ollie Wynn-Williams at Hardwoods Specialty Products for a referral. We figured a guy who sells wood to cabinet and furniture makers would know who does the best work.

Seth Gonzales in his Kapolei studio.

I’m delighted to report that Ollie sent us to Seth Gonzales, a talented furniture maker who is sometimes available for a job such as kitchen cabinets. What a find!

Seth is, in a word, a perfectionist. He searches for the perfect wood (in our case, maple from Hardwoods Specialty Products) and his work is impeccable.

Seth adds a piece of crown molding he created.


The studio is well equipped and spotless!

On the day we visited Seth’s studio, he had just finished a beautiful kitchen island top that he was sending off to San Francisco. He had also completed two exquisite koa cabinets that were awaiting a client.

So next time you’re considering a remodel, call a local artisan rather than going to a big box store.

And by the way, it was outstanding value and cost less than expected!

Paula Rath

April 20th, 2021 / posted by paularath

My treasured Sumaqkay clutch, which is always a conversation starter.

Many textile scholars claim that the art of textile weaving began in Peru. Having heard several lectures in Santa Fe in the ’90s, and read a few magazine articles on the subject, I have come to believe this may well be true.

So when our Antarctica cruise stopped at the Peruvian port of Pisco, I was determined to see some Peruvian weaving, preferably in an authentic workshop or studio.

A young Peruvian weaver in the Sumaqkay workshop.

When we’re on a cruise, sometimes the local port sends a representative to the ship to give passengers directions or help them find tours or restaurants they might enjoy. In Pisco we got lucky. A nice young man from the Chamber of Commerce, who spoke okay English, lit up when I asked my question: “Where can we see local weaving?” He answered with great enthusiasm: “Ah! Sumaqkay!” We asked him how far away it was and he said, “It’s in Paracas – not too far.” He then wrote down the name and suggested we hire one of the local taxi drivers who were waiting just outside the port.

Many frequent cruise passengers will say you should not walk off the ship and hail a taxi. But, honestly, Jerry and I have had some of our most perfect days just winging it with a driver we met in the port. (Valparaiso, Chile on Valentine’s Day was one fabulous occasion!)

We handed the driver, Julio, the name we were given. He looked a little puzzled at first, but then said “Yes, Sumaqkay,” and got on his phone. He drove and drove and drove, and then stopped and asked a woman making coffee, then a guy pumping gas, then another woman making tortillas on a barrel. No luck. Finally a motorcycle policeman came to our aid and pointed across the street at a green door. Apparently there is no address for the Sumaqkay Studio, just a green door.

Just two of the looms at the Sumakquay studio.

We entered into a beautiful garden and elegant shop. However, it was a Sunday and there was only one person there, running the shop, and no weavers. They put out a call and suggested we take a stroll in their farm and gardens while awaiting the arrival of a weaver. It was a lovely experience to wander through a Peruvian farm.

Jerry and I began our Sumaqkay experience with a walk around the family farm.

Sumaqkay is a mother-daughter design team. They combine leather with pre-Colombian patterns on hand woven fabrics to create well-made, unique hand bags.

Sumaqkay means “the most beautiful” in native Peruvian Quechua. They have taken the traditional form of weaving and taught young weavers contemporary approaches to color and design. The company honors Peru’s rich textile heritage by giving back ten percent of their revenues for the Sumaqkay Education Fund that helps support young weavers.

The Sumaqkay showroom.

I’m afraid there aren’t any more bags like my fabulous clutch. But you can see some of their work online at www.sumaqkayparacas.com

Paula Rath