HEART and ART: Ruben and Sonya’s Love Story is Centered on Giving Back to the Community

HEART and ART: Ruben and Sonya’s Love Story is Centered on Giving Back to the Community

HEART and ART: Ruben and Sonya’s Love Story is Centered on Giving Back to the Community - ShopYWCA

There’s a wedding scheduled in this month of June and instead of pots and pans from an online registry, or red envelopes with dollar bills, Ruben and Sonya will request all their esteemed guests to make a contribution to YWCA O`ahu in lieu of wedding gifts.

But it wasn’t just our artistic couple’s generous hearts that drove this desire to give back to the nonprofit on their special day, it was several chapters in their love story that perfectly aligned with YWCA’s mantra. The story began to blossom when Sonya moved to Hawaii in 2013.

For 18 years before the move, she was owner of a successful art and design firm in New York, working with a team of talented artists and clients that spanned across the US, Europe, Japan and Hong Kong. And while Hawaii was a regular work destination for her, it was the spirit of the island that whispered to her soul a renewed life purpose through art. 

Sonya packed her bags and embraced her passion to promote artists of all types, became a force in her reinvented path and expanded her creative empowerment of the Oahu art community by producing "HI on Art: the Movie" in 2020.  Created during the pandemic, the film went on to be selected for multiple film festivals and won an award for "Best Film on Women" in the Crown Wood Film Festival in 2021. Sonya– developed a thriving network,  connected with galleries and organized venues and events. Using her keen understanding of art authentication and appraisal she focused her skills and time to nurture the art community on Oahu to connect people and encourage their talents in order to create opportunities. She was on Fire.

Meanwhile, Ruben as a young man spent years traveling the world - backpacking, hitchhiking and getting inspired with nature’s wonders. The same spirit of Hawaii made him decide to move to the North Shore of Oahu in 1998, where he discovered he could use old surfboards as a carving material. The rest was history.

Ruben now has a presence in galleries throughout the Hawaiian islands and he teaches his craft through his Master Class series. He was a pioneer in using eco-friendly, reclaimed surfboards that are transformed into carved masterpieces. His pieces are divine - and a common element that threads them is the second acronym in YWCA: Women.

If not emerging from majestic waves or elegantly tucked among nature’s greenery, the women that Ruben carve are transformative, strong and exudes confidence. They are goddesses of beauty and grace - perhaps inspired by a certain someone “on fire” that has inspired his work, and that certain someone, he will soon marry.

Not only does Ruben call Sonya his “muse,” but her image can be seen reflected in almost all of his work. Sonya became his agent, and this mix of work and shared passion of the arts has fanned the flames of their love story.

“He was the Michelangelo of Hawaii,” said Sonya. “He has magical hands that can sculpt and carve.”

The upcoming wedding, called “Heart and Art,” features select products and services from Shop Small Hawaii, startup entrepreneurs and YWCA program graduates. Supporting local has always been a priority with the couple. “We had a great experience working with the YWCA team,” said Sonya. “Everyone loved the curated Local VIP Gift Boxes they produced for our “HI on Art” movie launch so we had to engage with them again for our “Heart and Art” celebration!” 

The event becomes a showcase in itself – a culmination of years of philanthropy and love for art by the couple. They decided to provide a platform to promote rising businesses and products, except for the rings, which Ruben decided to create with his own hands.

Perhaps it was written in the stars, or naturally carved in the love story timeline, but the couple coincidentally and without warning, received heirloom gold jewelry to be melted into their rings. Sonya’s mom gave her ring to Ruben for that purpose, and since Ruben’s mom has passed away, her ring was given to by Ruben’s dad, both with similar instructions to melt them. The gestures were uncoordinated and happened on separate, unrelated occasions. 

Isn’t it amazing when the stars align for a reminder that things are meant to be? It was kismet. 

The couple have also donated an exclusive YWCA O`ahu piece, as part of their wedding gift. We are so honored to be part of this inspiring love story, and be the beneficiary of their generosity.

From the Shop YWCA team, we wish Sonya and Ruben all the best wishes as they tie the knot this June! 

YWCA O`ahu | Sonya & Rubenʻs Wedding

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 Trivia: Did you know YWCA’s COO Terri Funakoshi was the cupid that introduced Sonya and Ruben? Terri instantly saw the connection in the language of art they speak.