BRUSHING AWAY THE ASHES: Tina adapts and continues to paint

BRUSHING AWAY THE ASHES: Tina adapts and continues to paint

BRUSHING AWAY THE ASHES: Tina adapts and continues to paint

As a renowned artist, Tina Ah Puck’s paintings have been featured in several galleries around Maui. Her work is inspired by ancient Hawaiian legends, natural places of mana (energy) and challenges many to dream and play with their imagination. Many of her works were displayed in Lahaina galleries - until the Aug. 8 wildfires turned everything into dust.

Tina Ah Puck was born in Michigan. She first traveled to Maui because she won a trip on the radio and has called Maui her home since 2004.The beauty of Maui resonated with her so profoundly that without any formal training or education, Tina started painting and opened a small gallery on Front Street. Her company is Blade Reigns Art.

In January 2020, Tina also realized one of her dreams by opening a massage salon with her art gallery, drawing upon her 23 years of experience as a massage therapist. Her studio was unique, featuring four massage beds and a crystal and stone collection.

But shortly after opening her salon, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Tina to shut down her business. She found herself collecting unemployment and adapting to the situation by making house calls for her clients. She survived the challenges of the pandemic, but then the fires happened.

On that fateful day of the fires, Tina had a massage session at a client's home in Kapalua. With no electricity, Tina embarked on a challenging journey to pick up her two children from her mother-in-law's house in Lahaina. Traffic lights were out, and coconuts were sent flying by the winds. Tina was unaware that the fire was mercilessly devouring their town, and it was hard to comprehend the extent of the destruction.

Thankfully, Tina’s family was safe and their Kaanapali home escaped the fire's wrath. Tina's in-laws, however, were not as fortunate, as they lost their homes, including the historic Nagasako General Store, which had been in the family for over a century.

The fire changed everything for Tina, forcing her to face difficult decisions and adapt to a new reality. Her massage studio business, a place where she provided healing and relaxation to her clients, was consumed by the flames, leaving her with nothing but ashes. 

The financial loss, excluding art pieces which she is yet to calculate, left Tina with the daunting task of navigating a financial maze in order to rebuild from scratch. To continue her work, she's contemplating going mobile and providing massage services through house calls. 

In the past four months, 30 percent of Tina’s clients have relocated elsewhere, and she now averages only two house calls a day (which used to go up to eight!). But Tina is determined to move forward, envisioning a future that blends her passion for massage therapy and art. She believes that dedicating time to both of these interests will be essential to her healing and recovery.

Her vision of rebuilding includes heartwarming acts of kindness as a form of response. Tina has been auctioning off her remaining art pieces to assist other families in need - 100 percent of profits have gone to families in need.

The fires may have taken her business and tested her family, but Tina's gifts are guiding her towards a brighter future. She is currently making plans on where to take her next steps, but she is certain that her art will prevail. So long as she holds a paintbrush, the extraordinary stories and magic from her paintings will live to tell the tales and secrets of Lahaina.

Revel in this magic. Her art is now available here on Shop YWCA.

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