New Combination Art Studio and Gallery Opens at Queens’ MarketPlace
Story by Natasha Bourlin
Queens’ MarketPlace welcomed a new, creatively-driven retail concept when Hawaii Fluid Art opened its doors on May 1, 2021.
A dual-use space, the shop invites students to tap into their inner artist while finding inspiration in the gallery space that features Hawai’i painters and artisans.
In a time when Hawai’i’s retail vacancy rate averages 8% statewide, according to a recent report by commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group, Inc., and the pandemic has driven many people to the shelter of their homes and to online shopping, opening a retail space can be an intimidating endeavor.
But Hawaii Fluid Art Owner Maya Ratcliff is taking that risk.
Additionally, she’s providing new jobs to Hawai’i residents plus showcasing numerous local artists’ creations and offering them a platform for sales.
“We are thrilled to welcome Hawaii Fluid Art to the Queens’ MarketPlace family,” said Property Marketing Manager Hanna Bree. “Hawaii Fluid Art will offer both visitors and locals a unique immersive art experience with a lasting memory to take home.”
Professional teaching artist, certified art therapist and Waikoloa resident Maya Ratcliff opened Hawaii Fluid Art after forming a burgeoning business, which was birthed in her home during the pandemic. Ratcliff began her artistic career helping people with brain injuries delve into their artistic talents as therapy. She eventually developed her proprietary method of fluid art using acrylic paints and a special pouring medium while working from her home and at area resorts.
Ratcliff invited small, private groups of masked friends and family into her home studio in an effort to brighten days hampered by COVID-19. Together, she and the students painted pieces that Ratcliff said often ended up surprising even the most adamantly “unartistic” individuals. From there, Hawaii Fluid Art was born.
As word spread by students thrilled at seeing what they could create, even as first-timers, increasing demand necessitated Ratcliff’s search for a dedicated space to share her interactive and educational process. Now, she’s beginning to franchise Hawaii Fluid Art studios nationally as well, with plans to eventually expand on an international scale.
“I feel that everyone can be an artist, and I love helping inspire people and bringing joy to people through art,” Ratcliff said. “Fluid art is a fun way to bring people together for a unique experience focused on self-expression. Together, we make feel-good art.”
Ratcliff’s mission for Hawaii Fluid Art is, “To inspire and nurture the human spirit one painting at a time.” Her fluid art technique is taught during multiple daily classes booked by appointment. In the studio, she shares her specially crafted materials and teaches students to blend and pour paints in a way that forms vibrant artworks on canvas that often mimic nature. Ratcliff also teaches classes in resin art, including how to make three-dimensional designs. Once complete, students get to take their masterpieces home.
“I found Maya’s fluid art style to be both a freeing and inspirational type of artwork that is satisfying both to do alone with music blasting or with a group of friends. It’s also fun to do with kids, as you can all get messy and make beautiful pieces,” Hawaii Fluid Art student Amy Gappa said. “I enjoy it because there are a variety of pouring styles that all develop do into beautiful pieces of unique artwork. It’s therapeutic. I’ve already made many pieces to gift to friends as a gesture of love, and it’s something that I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.”
Other local artists featured in Hawaii Fluid Art’s gallery include Laura Beech Bauer, a fiber artist who weaves natural materials found in Hawai’i to create intricate baskets; Kathy Sprinkle, painter of nature and silk-scarf artist who uses acrylics plus natural mediums; Cherie Sequiera, a Maui-based jewelry artist who works with fine gemstones and metals; Don Ratcliff, a koa, mango and monkey pod wood artist specializing in custom furniture plus traditional Hawaiian paddles and bowls; and Martin Sanchez, owner of Smart Shark Designs who paints canvas and wood with vivid colors and island-inspired themes, then donates a portion of each sale back to the nonprofit Hawai’i Wildlife Fund.
Hawaii Fluid Art is hosting an open house event June 5 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition to checking out available classes plus exhibited jewelry and artwork, guests can partake in a champagne or sparkling cider toast, then take home a thank you gift.
Hawaii Fluid Art is open daily in the Queens’ MarketPlace at Waikoloa Beach Resort from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with classes available by appointment. For more information or to schedule classes, visit Hawaiifluidart.com or call 808-344-4878.