Nearly 20 years ago, Mike and Kathy Carroll moved to Lanai from Chicago. Mike, a trained medical illustrator, found art and inspiration everywhere he turned and decided to transition into creating paintings that captured the island’s beauty and its extraordinary sense of place. He started the Mike Carroll Gallery, which features works from Lanai artists and those who connect to and appreciate the island.
While the pandemic has proved difficult for small businesses across Hawaii, Mike and Kathy remain hopeful and upbeat, taking the situation in stride. Through technology, they have found ways to pivot their business, stay in touch with their clientele, and add new art and offerings to the gallery along the way.
Adapting to the times
As soon as COVID-19 started to impact travel to Lanai, Mike and Kathy decided to revamp the gallery’s website. Now, art lovers worldwide have access to the many paintings, crafts, jewelry, prints, and products on the gallery’s online store. “People weren’t able to come to us, so we wanted to make the website shine,” recalled Mike.
Keeping everyone’s current situation top of mind, Mike and Kathy have found ways to create fun and functional art to meet residents’ and clients’ needs during the pandemic. They turned some of Mike’s most cherished paintings into wearable artwork in the form of tote bags and facemasks. Mike and Kathy also created 500-piece jigsaw puzzles from Mike’s art to help customers beat the boredom during the pandemic.
The duo continues to add new artists and collections to the gallery. When selecting art, Mike looks for unique mediums, different from collections that they already host. He cited Lanai artist Kristin Belew’s detailed, life-size gyotaku (traditional Japanese art of printing fish) creations as an example of a fresh, exciting addition to the gallery.
For Mike, the slowdown in visitors to the island has meant more time to paint. After returning home from a mainland trip, he completed three commission paintings during his two-week quarantine.
Staying connected through the pandemic
While many clients miss being able to stop by and see Mike painting on the porch, fans can still pay a visit to the gallery from the comfort of their home. Kathy started conducting gallery tours on FaceTime to give those who can’t make it a chance to see the new art up close. “That’s one of the great things about Lanai; it’s small enough that we can give personal service,” explained Mike.
Kathy and Mike have gotten to know their clientele well over the years, so when new collections arrive, they can pick up the phone and alert those who may be interested. Mike also helps people remain connected to each other and to Lanai through his commissions. He creates one-of-a kind works of art of beloved people, pets and scenes for people to cherish.
Until people can come by in person, Mike continues to paint on with a positive outlook. “When people come back [to Lanai], it’s like they are family. And we miss our family and look forward to seeing them return as soon as things get back to normal.”
Hours of Operation
The gallery is usually open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but due to changing COVID-19 hours, it’s best to call ahead or make an appointment at 808-565-7122. Check out the new gallery website at www.mikecarrollgallery.com. Kamaaina and military can enjoy a 10% discount.