As a child, Mark Kadota asked his parents for some paints. Slightly mystified by the request, they went ahead and bought him a paint-by-number kit. He removed the paints, ignored the picture and created his own art—a little boy who knew his whole life what he wanted to be and grew up to become a modern day Renaissance man.
The California native came to Hawai‘i as a young man in 1971. He settled at the back of a remote valley in the Wai‘anae Mountains with a group of other artists, studying not only techniques of painting but also the culture of Hawai‘i. He studied under the late kuma hula Mililani Allen, who became his muse for his early art.
“I love Wai‘anae and have spent most of my life there,” says Kadota. “It is my muse when I am in Hawai‘i. I still love to travel and live in other lands but always return to my home in Wai‘anae. As an artist, it constantly inspires me by the beauty and power. Parts of my travels give me a renewed appreciation for the Wai‘anae area. I never want to take it for granted.”
A multi-faceted artist, Kadota also expresses his creativity through ceramics, sculpture, photography, performance art, dancing, music and writing.
His landscapes, many of the Wai‘anae coastline, are mixed-media using a combination of oils and acrylics and even sand and dirt mixed in for texture.
“Creating artwork has been my life-long passion,” he says.
Kadota’s works are collected and shown around the globe. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Kadota was one of only six artists asked to represent the United States in the cultural exhibition at the Today Art Museum. However, it’s his island muse that he keeps returning to. “I love my home in Wai‘anae, it allows me to reflect, focus on my artwork and live a simpler life,” he adds. “I can maintain a strong focus on my art in my studio in Wai‘anae. I love living quietly surrounded by nature.”