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West Maui community loses Peggy (Alexandra) Morrow

By Staff | Apr 3, 2014

Pictured at an art show in February 1969, Alexandra Morrow (right) was one of the founders of Lahaina Arts Society. PHOTO BY NAKAMOTO ART STUDIO.

LAHAINA – Lahaina Arts Society icon Peggy (Alexandra) Morrow passed away March 7 in her palatial home on Front Street just short of her 100th birthday.

She led a full, fruitful and charmed life.

Her colors were all shades of purple – grape, lavender and mauve. You could feel her move down Front Street before you saw her.

Morrow was born in 1914 in Salinas, California, to Monterey Peninsula business and real estate developers.

She attended both U.C. Berkeley and the University of California in Los Angeles.

She was successful in her long career in real estate, launched in the 1940s.

With her family, she purchased over 1,000 acres of land in Carmel, California in 1948.

She was married three times. With her second husband, Robert Hartman Sr., she moved to Lahaina in 1958 “in pursuit of her artistic and spiritual endeavors,” her obituary read.

“She envisioned what Lahaina and Maui would become long before the development of the island’s first resort area – Kaanapali – and started to acquire commercial and residential real estate in Lahaina,” the obituary noted.

“She created and for years operated the White Butterfly Boutique (at the corner of Dickenson and Front Streets).”

It was with her third husband, Tim Morrow, that she opened The Gallery, an Oriental and antiquities shop in the 600 block of Front Street.

Earl Vierra worked for the Morrows in the day as a picture framer.

He had a special memory.

“They lived in a mansion just past Lahaina Methodist Church on Front St. (Earl) Had to go there to hang art pictures for her, and dey had a classic model T old car with a beautiful green and black paint job and the words MORROW GALLERY on it. Car was awesome – da dull, off-green color like a cocktail olive and black trim and wooden box bed. Only went from home to gallery and to LAS (Lahaina Arts Society) gallery,” Vierra recalled.

Morrow may be best remembered as one of the founders of Lahaina Arts Society, a major, early influence of the Lahaina art scene.

Former West side resident Richard Schmidt posted a message on Facebook on behalf of his wife: “Chris-Chris started volunteering for Janet Allan (George Allan’s wife) in 1975 at the Lahaina Arts Society, where Alexandra was on the board along with Joyce Clark and the Fawcetts. She was a force in beginning the Lahaina Arts Society – she fashioned the Society from the rules and regulations of the Carmel Arts Society. She contributed to Lahaina’s cultural enrichment in many ways.”

Local Neo-Pop artist Davo has fond remembrances of his relationship with Morrow.

“She was the grand madam,” the Lahaina artist observed.

“First time I saw her (in 1979-80), she was classic Alexandra – coming across that lawn and banyan tree heading for the Arts Society in her lavender muumuu and lavender head lei,” he recalled.

Over the years, the relationship between Davo and Morrow deepened to a long-term friendship.

Davo described Morrow’s lifestyle.

“Fascinating lady; she told me about her travels to Italy and to Africa, riding elephants and this and that,” he said.

Davo pays the highest respect to Morrow as a fellow artist and one of the founders of LAS.

“First of all, the LAS was such a huge thing for artists. The first artists were like Betty Hay Freeland and George Allan, who are now big names. For me, in 1980, that was the first gallery where I could actually hang two or three paintings. It was my first real gallery,” he said.

Amy Fry spoke on behalf of LAS.

“Lahaina Arts Society was born from a group of artists who, back in the 1960s, created informal art exhibits along the sea wall and in the park next to the Pioneer Inn. In 1965, ten couples donated $50 each to start up the present institution; among those were Alexandra and Tim Morrow. On November 14, 1967, LAS was officially established as a non-profit organization.

“Forty-seven years later, LAS continues its dedication to showcase, support, market and mentor Maui County artists. Lahaina Arts Society is extremely grateful for artistic pioneers like Alexandra Morrow and for all she has done for the Maui artistic community,” the community art group CEO said.

“We are also extremely sad to hear of the passing of Alexandra Morrow,” Fry concluded.