I sent this letter to the committee of the Haleiwa Arts Festival. I wanted to share it with you. Maybe it will plant the seed for anyone dreaming about making their own book a reality.
To: Haleiwa Arts Festival Committee
The phone rang one summer morning, the president of the North Shore Outdoor Circle was calling to ask for help at the Haleiwa Arts Festival. Although I had not been an active club member for a while, I had provided floral demonstrations in the past and it was probably guilt, which led me to quickly answer "yes." The idea I came up with was leaf imprinting on fabric. This was a welcome change from the floral demonstrations of years past.
The day arrived, and the activity was a hit! Everyone wanted to try and perfect this new craft. Many told me that they were going to go right home and create a table runner, or cloth using foliage from their own backyard.
After an hour of non-stop printing I was really looking forward to a break. I wandered around looking at the blown glass, pottery and jewelry. I got my face painted and gabbed with friends. The festival had a lot to offer.
Then I entered an art stall filled with oil paintings. Gazing at the bright colors, the expression of the Hawaiian kids, so true to life here on the North Shore, I had found the artist for my children's story. I knew it the moment I laid eyes on his work.
A year ago I had written a children's story, it had been sitting on my shelf waiting for an artist and there he was, standing right in front of me. I became very nervous. What would I say? What would he say? Could I even afford his art? Then an inner voice said, "Just talk to the guy."
I introduced myself and blurted out, "have you ever thought of illustrating a children's book?" He reached inside a lauhala basket, pulled out a business card, and asked me to give him a call.
The card featured a painting of a young Hawaiian boy wearing a haku lei. The bottom edge was adorned with a border of breadfruit leaves, the very leaves I had chosen for my imprinting craft.
I returned to the Outdoor Circle booth knowing something wonderful was about to begin. It took me a few days after the festival to find the courage to call him, but it turned out to be the best call I ever made. Keoni Montes had dreamed of illustrating a children's book since he was a teenager.
Keoni and I met every Thursday for six months. With time and energy, my vision became his vision, and together we created nineteen paintings for Surf's Up For Kimo, my long-awaited children's book.
Magic really can happen at small town arts festivals, and I'm thankful Haleiwa has one. I'd also like to thank the North Shore Outdoor Circle for all they have taught me about community and the many plants we have in our beautiful state. The breadfruit leaves we used that day at the festival are included in the book. I know the Haleiwa Arts Festival must be a huge undertaking, and I hope by telling this story you will be encouraged to continue. I now dream that there will be a writer's stall at next year's festival and that I and the other North Shore writers will be there, signing books. I'll be sure to sign a copy of Surf's Up For Kimo for you.
Mahalo Nui Loa,