Art helps put lives together on Oahu
U'ilani Correa walks gracefully around the wheelchairs and easels like she never had a bum hip.
"This is Rory, and he does beautiful paintings of honu, turtle.
"Morris is painting with his mouth now. He does such detailed work.
"John Tuan Le will finish a painting in an hour, something that would take me weeks and weeks!"
This is the Louis Vuitton Creative Arts Program at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific, an ongoing class that has been like healing waters for so many. Except it might not have the name for long. Louis Vuitton, which had funded the program since 1994 with an annual golf tournament, will no longer do so. That has hospital administrators and the program's supporters looking for other sources of funding.
Correa had hip replacement surgery in 2006 after years of debilitating pain. While recovering at the Rehab Hospital, she had to be coaxed into trying the art class. Having never painted before, she was a hard sell, but the idea of being able to sit out on the breezy lanai of the hospital appealed to her. That's all art instructor Reuben Young needed. He charms, encourages and inspires each of his students to try, just try.
All Young's students are patients or former patients of the Rehab Hospital, each with his or her own set of circumstances and abilities. Art can be healing for crippled hands, an injured brain, a sad and angry heart, whatever each needs in their journey, and Reuben Young, thin, mop-haired and eternally smiling, is the one who whispers, "You can" and shows how.
Like Correa, the line between patient and volunteer is blurred. People who participated in the class as inpatients often come back to help. Family members end up bringing snacks or helping to set up easels. It is a happy, amiable time two afternoons a week under the shade of the lanai with a gentle breeze blowing tiny Nu'uanu raindrops like a blessing.
This Saturday, MW Group, a real estate development firm, is holding a fundraiser to help the Creative Art Therapy Program. It is a car wash with a twist: Top local executives will be manning the hoses and rags. Mike Hogan of Bank of Hawaii, Buzz Wo of Morgan Stanley, Steve Metter of MW Group and John Komeiji of Watanabe Ing Komeiji are among those signed up to soap. The event is being sponsored by MW Group's BRIDGE volunteerism program and will be held at the Rehab Hospital parking lot, 226 N. Kuakini St., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Prices are $10 for cars and $15 for vans, SUVs and trucks.
Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or email@example.com.