JOHN “KEONI” MEIGS
John “Keoni” Meigs came to Hawaii in the 1930s as a news reporter to write about Honolulu, the growing city in the middle of the Pacific. Driven by creativity and curiosity, Meigs was soon shaping a number of island industries with his pursuits. He was enlisted to design homes on the slopes of Punchbowl and was also encouraged by the growing garment industry to create textile art for Aloha shirts, which were worn by locals and visitors alike.
Fans of Meigs appreciated his unique artistic style, which was whimsical, but in his own words, “really Hawaiian without being pedestrian”. Drawing inspiration from the tapa patterns he saw in Bishop Museum, Paul Gauguin’s paintings of Tahiti, and classic Hawaiian motifs, Meigs created over 300 textile designs during his time in the islands, many of which are considered classics today.
Meigs went on to move to New Mexico in the 1950s, where he became a well-received landscape artist. Although he painted the earth tones of the desert instead of tropical island scenes, Meigs kept one part of Hawaii with him: his Aloha shirts. He was often pictured wearing one with a cowboy hat, personifying the connection between western and Aloha.