For as long as she can remember, Mary Anne Fitch has had an affinity for art. From painting to sculpture to photography, she has a deep and enduring appreciation for all things artistic.

That’s why Fitch and her husband, Nam Le Viet, both of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers and Christie’s International Real Estate, do what they can to keep the arts alive and thriving on Maui.

Over the years, the couple has supported a number of arts-related endeavors, including the Maui Arts League, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that promotes visual fine arts and creates opportunities for people of all ages to experience art.

It’s a mission that Fitch and Le Viet wholeheartedly endorse—so much, in fact, that Le Viet volunteered to serve on the organization’s board of directors.

The Maui Arts League fosters an appreciation for fine art through a variety of programs, including home art tours, lectures and plein air events (“en plein air” is the act of painting outdoors, a style developed primarily in France during the mid-19th century; it became a central feature of French impressionism). The organization’s flagship event is the annual Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational, which is held every February in West Maui.

Every year, professional artists (those who excel in the category of plein air painting) are formally invited to attend the nine-day-long event, which features “paint outs,” art sales, workshops, lectures, discussion panels, collectors’ receptions and a youth event. At each paint out, art collectors and aficionados can observe the artists as they paint outdoors; over the course of the Invitational, the artists collectively produce more than 175 paintings, which are then exhibited and sold.

Now in its 14th year, the 2019 Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational will feature 24 plein air artists from Hawaii, the mainland and Australia. From Feb. 16 to 24, the painters will capture the beauty of Maui—from people to buildings to seascapes to mountain vistas—at designated sites throughout West Maui, including Lahaina Harbor, Kapalua Bay, and the Royal Lahaina Resort.

It’s something Fitch and Le Viet look forward to every year. “It’s an opportunity to watch an artist paint…and to develop a relationship with them at the same time,” Fitch said. “And it’s an opportunity to buy a beautiful and original piece of art.”

Over the years, the couple has sponsored special events in conjunction with the Invitational; they’ve also volunteered to be a host family for visiting artists.

But this year, they decided to do something different.

On Sunday, Nov. 25, Fitch and Le Viet hosted the first-ever “Paint the Town Together” event at Taverna in Kapalua in support of the 2019 Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational; it drew more than 75 attendees. It was an evening chock full of fine food, fine wine and fine art, but Fitch says there was an ulterior motive. There are many people who are unfamiliar with the concept of plein air painting, she said, “So we thought we’d have a fun party and show them what it’s all about.”

That evening, two award-winning plein air artists, Carleton Kincade of Lahaina and Mark Brown of Oahu, put their talent on display; they painted two original pieces that were subsequently offered for sale. Rita Boyle, senior vice president of Christie’s Trust, Estate and Wealth Management Services, gave a presentation for experienced and first-time art collectors titled “Supporting Your Community Through the Arts.”

“Paint the Town Together” was so successful that Fitch says she is considering doing it again next year. “I really enjoy hosting events that bring the community together,” she said. “Especially when it benefits the arts.”

The 2019 Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational will take place Feb. 16 through 24 at designated sites in West Maui. To learn more or to view a detailed schedule of events, visit www.mauipleinairpainting.org or email info@mauipleinairpainting.org. For more information about the Maui Arts League or to learn how to become a benefactor of the arts, visit www.mauiartsleague.org.

By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – December 29, 2018

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