Kailua: Portrait of a Place

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Photo by: Mark Arbeit

Jodi Endicott

Jodi Endicott is one of Kailua’s most visible artists due to her public sculptures and her involvement with the Balcony Gallery. The gallery sparked new interest in Kailua’s art scene. It succumbed to the economic downturn and closed in July 2008, but Endicott counts the whole venture as a positive experience. “We called attention to the artists who live here and work here,” she says. “We introduced people and furthered others’ careers. We did a few ‘wow’ things. And the artists stepped up, too.” She’s not surprised so many artists have gravitated to Kailua. “It has the aesthetic we’re looking for,” she says. “It’s more real.” Kailua’s light has influenced Endicott. “The light changes throughout the day. My work changes, too, in the light. It’s not just one piece, but hundreds, as the light changes.”

Endicott and her husband moved from Kaimuki to Kailua in 1988 to have a family. Endicott remembers attending a meeting on town planning. “The speaker asked, ‘Where in this town would you let go of your 8-year-old’s hand?’ That was a great question. People are getting out now to walk and connect. They’re getting out of their cars.” Endicott appreciates that Kailua is just big enough to provide the music teachers, sports teams, health professionals, library, parks, beaches and dependable, friendly shop owners her family needs. “People really get behind their community here,” Endicott says. “We care. We don’t always agree, but everyone wants Kailua to be the best it can be.”


Photo by: Mark Arbeit

Elizabeth Kent

Elizabeth Kent’s lanai—one corner filled with her sewing machine and a colorful rack of thread—looks out on so much thick greenery that the nearby neighbors are invisible. The lush views and plant colors show up often in Kent’s quilted wall hangings.

Twenty years ago, Kent moved in with friends who lived right next to the beach park. Ten years later, she moved up the hill to her present house. “I loved being so close to the beach, there in 20 seconds,” she says, “but it’s more private here. It’s so cool and quiet and we have our own ecosystem. Out one side of the house we see Olomana and out the other side, the marsh.”

A mediator with the Hawai‘i State Judiciary, Kent has devoted time to sewing and quilting for 22 years. She makes vests and jackets as well as her quilts, working mainly with Japanese fabrics. She sews under the name Vested Interest, a play on mediation language.

Kent is happiest when she can stay on the Windward Side. “I get what I call Kailua-itis,” she says. “I get lazy and don’t want to go to town. I love being in Kailua. In both my neighborhoods, by the beach and up here, the neighbors are kind, diverse, they watch out for each other. Everything I want is here. In seven minutes I can be at two different beaches, both listed on Best Beaches of the World, and I can take my dog. In five minutes I’m in the mountains.”


Photo by: Mark Arbeit

Tomas Del Amo

Photographer Tomas Del Amo first visited Hawaii in 1959 when he was 14, and spent several weeks at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel as the guest of movie star Loretta Young, his mom’s best friend. Remembering that storybook summer, del Amo moved to Hawaii as an adult in the 1980s. He spent another 10 years in Boulder, but, he says, “I looked around and realized in Colorado in April there are no vivid colors.” Soon he was back in Hawaii.

Del Amo rents a cottage in Lanikai, tumbling orchids framing the path to his door. “There are lots of places on Oahu where you don’t really know you’re in Hawaii,” he says. “You’re inland, it’s suburban. Kailua is what I always fantasized Hawaii was like.”

Although he can set up his small front room as a temporary photo studio, del Amo does most of his shooting outdoors. “This is the beach to shoot on,” he says of Lanikai. “The Windward Side gets the sunrise and you don’t have the crowds that sunset attracts.” “It’s a feeling, Kailua. I died and went to heaven when I moved here. I love the people. I like the feeling that you know who your neighbors are.”

Del Amo shares his cottage with painter Barbara Eberhart and together they participate in local craft fairs. “Artists inspiring artists,” del Amo says, “that’s a joy. It’s great to be on the same wavelength.”