If you ask me when my love for art began, it began at birth, I am a born artist and enthusiast. If you ask me when my love for fine art began, it was when my eyes met the work of Christian Reese Lassen.
How could I ever be the same after experiencing the magical modern seascapes of this undeniably talented artist? There I was, as young as I could remember, a Pisces dreamer living in what felt like the center of the Sun, escaping into the paintings of Lassen. It was my art soul mate and with just one look, his art changed my life forever.
As a child, it transported me in my mind from Arizona to the tropical islands of Hawaii. As an adult, it has given me the passion to pursue my true-life love and represent artists as a gallery owner today.
While other girls grew up following the trends of fashion, friends and pop music, I spent endless hours gazing at anything I could find with Lassen’s name on it. All throughout high school, I aspired to create paintings that embodied his fantastical interpretations of a land I yearned to live in. My pencils, my folders, my screensavers, and my thoughts were Lassen’s paintings. They affirmed my daydreams that the world was so much more beautiful than what meets the eye.
My dream job was to be a marine biologist or a dolphin trainer. That was until I realized that marine biology was more science than swimming with dolphins and that captivity was cruel. How lucky am I, to have come across my true dream job so unexpectedly and now realize, that there is nothing in the world that I could be happier doing.
Front St. is one of the most amazing art districts in the country, possibly even the world. Sargent’s Gallery is owned by a truly soulful man and the people who they associate themselves with are marvelous. Martin Lawrence Gallery is represented by Gordon, an expert on the art of the most famous Masters in history who gives in-depth tours and carries the gallery with passion. James Kingwell is a timeless, classic island artist who humbly satisfies endless collectors from his charming studio year after year. Harte Gallery has remarkable consultants that are the finest and friendliest in the world to articulate the work of numerous famous artists. DeRubeis is a fun, unique gallery with art that will make your eyes change colors as you walk through! Peter Lik is a photographer who has by far set himself apart and set industry standards. Wyland, a world-famous, ocean conscious painter & the true name of art in his family, captures underwater essence in multidimensions with a full-hearted team of classy representatives. Vladimir Kush leaves his visitors awestruck from imaginative, genuine & singular creations in paint, bronze, and silver. Andrew Shoemaker captures Maui landscapes in all of its magnificence. These galleries and many other galleries charm visitors and convert them into collectors of fine art. There was a time when Christian Lassen had multiple galleries of his own on Front St. When his career began to excel to the heights of making him one of the wealthiest people in America, he emerged onto the scene in Japan and experienced even more success! His galleries were missed on Front St. and his art was difficult to acquire in the U.S. for some time.
It wasn’t until recently that one of the richest and most famous artists of our times re-emerged onto Front St. in Lahaina, Maui. I briefly worked at the art gallery on Front St. that shows his work. This gallery carries a massive and impressive collection of elite artists. I was baffled to be able to experience his art in person and even better, to be able to sell it. Fortunately, before my time was done there, I was able to sell Christian Reese Lassen’s artwork, and the best of all, to a wonderful woman in Arizona who needed his art around her just as I did myself. What a dream come true!
As I become more knowledgeable about the fine art industry, I discover that not everything is as it seems. Christian Reese Lassen doesn’t have a direct relationship with any galleries on Front St. and who knows to what extent his work is being manipulated for the monetary benefit of others, locally and abroad. I am grateful to have started and ended my association with that representation when I did. When I opened my gallery, my desire to sell his work had already been fulfilled and no longer a luring attraction to me. My only hope was to maybe one day have the chance to meet him.
As one can expect, there is a lot of gossip and rumors in lucrative industries, maybe even more so than others. There are some directors, gallery owners and artists who intentionally defame past employees in order to compensate for their hurt ego and jeopardize future professional opportunities for that person. There are charming, witty and intelligent salespersons who could care less about art and lie their way through every sale. There are sexual harassment cases, non-disclosure agreements that are not to the public’s advantage, amateurs retouching and dedicating artists’ work to close deals, & more dirt than you could dig up with a tractor behind the closed doors of some of the finest art galleries around. So, when you’ve stayed authentic and pure to your passion, it’s unfortunate to hear that the artist you’ve admired for so long, is not in the serene state of mind that made him the best Modern Ocean Artist of our time. Rumors around Chris’ name have been permeating throughout Lahaina and Oahu for quite some time as his behavior has become equally as colorful as his art.
Despite the rumors, I think it is always crucial to get a 1st hand experience before making judgments. As I worked enthusiastically renovating and preparing my gallery, Lassen would cross my mind from time to time. For a moment, I even got a feeling that I could use the larger space on the corner to represent Lassen’s work. I was hoping that our paths would cross soon.
On Sunday I finally got my chance! Here I was, walking with my children on Front St. on my way back to the gallery and enjoying fine art offered at other galleries. As I chatted with some friends that were working that night, Christian came through the doors full force! He was carrying an underpainted skull original painting and I was so excited to see what new phase he was currently in artistically. I’m wearing a flower beach dress cover up and Guess heels with a transparent stilleto, so he looks up and makes a funny comment about if there was any oxygen up there! I was absorbing his artwork as we started to get to know each other and later that night, he visited me at Evo.
Christian’s energy is like a crashing wave, he is unfiltered, uncensored and unapologetic. While this may put off most people, I felt like I was finally getting to meet a life long friend. He was leaving a paint trail everywhere since his entire body was covered in every color you could imagine of wet paint. Chris, my daughter Venice, and I were talking about how we are all Pisces and he affirmed that that was why we had connected. He even seemed to have heard my thoughts from when I first moved into this big beautiful blue building and claimed he was going to buy the property, open up his own gallery and have me run it. It was a bucket list experience for me!
After painting on Spencer Sinner’s works in progress and dishing out a few insults, he converted the mess on the chair into a work of art that he dedicated to my daughter. These new collaborations are now a prize to my heart and although some former employers are trying to get inside and add an original Lassen chair to their collection, it is a family heirloom and has brought me full circle from when I was a little girl loving Lassen to now a woman, accepting who he is today. I’m honored to have such a fun story to share and to be able to say that I connected with Christian Reese Lassen in an even more bizarre, and therefore, artistic way than I could’ve imagined.
Why was he covered in paint you may wonder? Well, he channeled his inner Jackson Pollock and was dripping paint (and wine) on the floor at Sargent’s and proceeded to use his “Okole” (Hawaiian for butt) all over his finished original skull painting before coming to sit at the desk with me at Evo Art Maui. It was the first time he had done any live painting on Front St. in a very long time. We will see if it is the last one!
Time changes, art changes and so do artists.