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Lady Luck shines, and the Carrolls capitalize

By Staff | Jul 24, 2014

Mike Carroll displays two of his many kinds of subjects outside his gallery in Lanai. PHOTO BY RON DAHLQUIST.

LANAI CITY – Lady Luck has shone brightly on highly successful artist Mike Carroll and his wife, Kathy, and both have made the most of it. People said they were “crazy” when they made an offer to buy a falling down plantation house here after just five days on the island. They went on to sell everything in Chicago to begin a new, fruitful life.

Mike and Kathy are friends. On the day Mike exhibited for the first time at the Banyan Tree, we had two things to celebrate. Mike sold two paintings the first day (unheard of). That evening, the two were our very first house guests in our in new home in Kaanapali.

Kathy, a public relations specialist, had worked with my Sara at the American Dietetic Association in Chicago. Mike had been a successful medical illustrator for 22 years after double-majoring in art and biology, earning a B.A. with honors in art and attending the prestigious Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he was awarded a Master’s Degree in Medical Illustration.

Mike had painted as a kid and missed oil painting. Visiting Manele Bay for their 20th wedding anniversary, the couple fell in love with the island, its people and its rural ways. Two contractors said the rundown house without a roof they wanted to buy should be torn down. The third, according to Mike, said it “had good bones” and took on the project.

The plan was to spend two months in Lanai to paint and ten months in Oak Park, Illinois (my hometown). Back home, on somewhat of a whim, the couple asked a realtor friend how much their home would be worth, and that is when Lady Luck chimed in.

The realtor offered to buy it himself. A second person learned about the house and said she would buy it for cash. The realtor said he would buy it for cash, too, setting up a silent bidding war and a sale without real estate commission, which led the winning realtor to cry all the way to the bank for the winning steep price he paid.

Mike figured they could live two years without selling a painting. He began painting at the beautiful grounds of the Koele Lodge, now a Four Seasons resort. He gained exposure to well-to-do visitors, who would stand before his easel when he painted on the grounds.

The Carrolls later opened a gallery on a side street and moved from there right onto the town’s main square, where they now operate a gorgeous gallery that displays the works of some 20 artists, with Mike’s work one of the most popular of the bunch.

Over the years, Mike has been juried into major competitions such as Art Maui and all three statewide Schaefer Portrait Challenges, and he has been painting in plein air competitions on Maui for eight years.

Mike’s website (mikecarrollgallery.com) is a showcase for hundreds of his works, which depict everything from rushing streams and picturesque bays to quaint houses, Lanai and Maui flora, and portraits of wahines, cowboys and horses at pasture.

“My style is a blend of realism and impressionism, Mike said.” I was trained as a medical illustrator, which is a ‘Type A’ form of illustration. I moved to Lanai to loosen my style up a bit. I enjoy painting portraits, still lifes, landscapes – you name it.”

The artist added that “I try to bring out in all of my paintings a feeling of peacefulness… my life in Chicago was hectic enough, and I really cherish the calm I experience on Lanai.”

Everybody on Lanai seems to know Mike and Kathy. When we mention them to our friends in Lahaina, people often know them as well.

High-energy Kathy – after helping for years with the gallery – has now made her own mark founding and managing the Lanai Family Rescue Center for distressed cats. But that’s another story…

COLUMNIST’S NOTEBOOK: See my commentary as a follow-up to my column item on the LahainaTown Action Committee. Visit my two revitalized websites, http://joysofkaanapali. com and voicesofmaui.com, to learn of daily happenings in Kaanapali and Lahaina.