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New Art Night exhibit features photos of Lahaina from the 1920s to ’40s

By Staff | Oct 12, 2020

Naoki Kutsunai’s collection includes a view of Front Street in the mid-1900s.

LAHAINA — Stunning black and white photos from the collection of Loli Nakamoto and Naoki Kutsunai will be featured at the weekly Art Night historic exhibit on the front lawn of the Baldwin Home Museum during the month of October.

The exhibit will be on display from 5 to 8 p.m. every Friday during the festive Friday Night is Art Night in Lahaina. Admission is free.

These photos of landmark buildings and memorable Lahaina scenes were taken between the 1920s and the 1940s. They demonstrate a mastery of composition, light and contrast and are a window into Lahaina’s past.

The imposing Mala Wharf, Front Street with a handful of vintage automobiles and the sprawling Pioneer Mill Hospital that occupied a corner of what is now Outlets of Maui are some of the idyllic scenes portrayed.

Both Nakamura and Kutsunai were studio photographers by trade, making their living taking photos of babies on their first birthday, newly married couples and families in their “Sunday best.”

In the studio, they used a view camera on a wooden frame that was five-and-a-half feet tall. This intriguing camera will also be on display.

Out in the field, however, they switched to a rolleiflex camera that hung on a strap around the photographer’s neck. The rolleiflex had two lenses of identical focal length. One lens transmitted the image to the film, and the other lens functioned as a viewfinder for the photographer.

During the war years, when Maui became a R&R destination for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Kutsunai made his photos into postcards that the homesick sailors sent home to their loved ones.

Thus, the first iconic images of Lahaina and Hawaii made their way into Mainland homes.

Friday Night is Art Night also features a candle lit tour of the historic Baldwin Home. Each 20-minute tour is limited to five people and costs $5 per person, with children 12 and under free.

Tickets may be purchased onsite or online at www.lahainarestoration.org, where a listing of galleries participating in Friday Night is Art Night can also be found.

Lahaina Restoration Foundation coordinates Art Night, the Candle Lit Tour and the Historic Displays.

For more information, visit www.lahainarestoration.org.