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Keynote: Maui artist Phil Sabado


Sharing his mana'o (thoughts and wisdom) for the conference's Closing Plenary is Maui Filipino artist Phil Sabado.


Phillip Sabado was born and raised in Mauna Loa in the days when one can walk barefoot in the plantation villages of Molokai. The youngest of 12, he took an early interest in art and his mother set aside some income to afford his paper and paints. After serving in the army he began studying at the Honolulu Museum of Art to pursue his interest in design and painting. He interned at the Bishop Museum learning from the great historical archives and working under Herb Kane. After studying at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, Phil worked on illustration and design in Los Angeles carving out a successful career as a Senior Art Director for the Bristol Meyers Corporation. It was at this time he became one of the top 50 illustrators in the US.


He returned to Hawaii in 1984, where he began his next life phase in the fine arts. Over the next 30 years, Phil committed to creating art that is historically accurate, depicting the essence of Hawaiian culture in oil painting. He has been commissioned to do many public and private murals and is celebrated within the collector community. His art studio can be found in Wailuku where on any given day you can meet Phil, talk story, and experience some of his amazing pieces. He is an excellent ambassador to Hawaii’s culture, arts and history but is also deeply rooted in his Filipino heritage.


He believes that art has a way of speaking to you, and no matter how many times you may view a mural, you may see something new each time. This has allowed residents and visitors who travel in and out of Hawaii to learn and grow in that discovery when viewing his artwork. His vision in his art is to depict ancestors who dreamt of building a better future for their families and this is shown in the determination in the faces of those immortalized in his artwork and murals.






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