Gary Eoff, 68, was born in Southern California and is married to his wife Karen for over 42 years. He went to the University of California in Santa Barbara and studied Science, Anthropology and Art History. He graduated in 1970 and began a career as an artist and craftsman. He has resided in Kona since 1980.
Inspired by the expert craftsmanship and natural materials used in the culture of old Hawai‘i, Gary has become a master craftsman specializing in the art of cordage making, lashing, tying and decorating gourds, weaving fish traps, bowls, baskets and Mahiole (helmets worn by the chiefs), fishing implements, tool and weapon making and more. His work is noted for detail, attention to authentic designs and the use of traditional materials and dyes. Gary gathers his materials in a manner that sustains the forest; always careful to nurture the plants and help them to reproduce more than was taken.
The inspiration he has gained creating items using traditional materials and customary practices has led to the evolution of Gary’s contemporary art forms. He works independently and in collaboration with other master craftsmen and artists on multi-media art pieces.
Gary’s love of Hawaiian traditions, especially that of the Hawaiian voyaging canoes, is reflected in the themes of his woodblock prints and paintings.
Gary’s traditional pieces are frequently used in exhibits and classrooms to demonstrate how the Hawaiians were able to sustain themselves on the long Pacific voyages and survive on the newly found land. They are also used to demonstrate traditional fishing techniques, the various uses of gourds and natural cordage.
He exhibits extensively with Volcano Art Center, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, Holualoa Foundation for Arts and Culture and Kahilu Threater, focusing on provisioning the canoe for blue water voyaging, and with the Kohanaiki ‘Ohana demonstrating the close connection between cultural practices and protecting our natural resources. He is often carving and decorating a gourd, weaving, or making cordage at the exhibits.
"By rediscovering the traditional practices and skills of our ancestors, we protect the land and ocean resources for our future."