Volcano Art Center Featured Artists

Mares, Leopoldo

Leopoldo Mares began his artistic career as a young student of Fine Arts in Fairbanks, Alaska. His first carvings included Pacific North West Coast Indian Art.
Mares earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Being Hispanic in decent his thesis project included travel to Mexico City to research Mayan and Aztec art, pottery designs and calendar of these ancient cultures. Mares completed a series of acrylic paintings based on Mayan pottery designs. The largest, a mural 10ft in height and 26 ft. long, depicted sculptures from Mesoamerica, beginning with the Olmec and ending with the Aztecs. This mural was exhibited at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Gallery.
In 2000 Mares moved to Hawai`i, the Big Island and met a master Hawaiian carver of the “pahu” drum. Studying with this “kumu” (teacher) he learned about carving “pahu” (drum). Mares states “since then, I have been able to feel deeper levels of connection and design and continue to carry on this art form.” Two years later Mares moved to the Island of Molokai where he resides today.
To carve, Mares uses chisels and mallets. He researches ancient drums and traditional designs incorporating these into his work for authenticity. Most of the “niu” (coconut) trunks are from the King Kamehameha V Kapuaiwa coconut grove on Molokai. “Each Niu was planted for a warrior.” says Mares.
Care Instructions: Traditionally, the new owner will give the “Pahu” a name. As a living piece of art, keep in moderate temperature, avoid extreme hot/cold environments. Occasionally, wipe and lightly oil with linseed oil thinned with mineral spirits the Pahu’s coconut surface.