Herb Kane has passed away. The beloved Hawaiian cultural expert, historian, artist, sculptor, and waterman passed away Tuesday evening, March 8, at a hospital on Oahu. Kane had been taken seriously ill on February 22, and was airlifted to Oahu. He’s been in the hospital with his wife Deon by his side since then. Herb and Deon lived in rural South Kona. Despite being a world-renowned artist and a living legend of Hawaii, Herb was very much a down-to-earth member of Hawaii Island and the Kona community. He was always accessible.
Born in 1928, he was raised in Waipi’o Valley and Hilo, Hawai’i, and Wisconsin. After Navy service, he studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received his Master’s Degree in 1953. He also studied at the University of Chicago.
Herb’s career was varied, and included included advertising art, publishing art, architectural design, painting, writing, and sculpture. His work appears in public spaces and in private collections around the world. He has published several books. His art has appeared on seven postage stamps for the U.S. Postal Service, as well as stamps for the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and French Polynesia. As a design consultant, he worked on resorts in Hawaii and the South Pacific and a cultural center in Fiji.
Herb did extensive research on Polynesian voyaging canoes. He was the general designer and builder of the sailing canoe Hokule’a and its first captain in 1975. He is well known for paintings that expertly depict the many types of Polynesian and Micronesian sailing canoes.
In 1984 he was named a Living Treasure of Hawaii. In the 1987 Year of the Hawaiian Celebration, he was one of sixteen persons chosen as Po’okela(Champion). From 1988 to 1992 he served as a founding trustee of the Native Hawaiian Culture & Arts Program, a Federal program at the Bishop Museum. In 1998, he was awarded Bishop Museum’s Charles Reed Bishop Medal. In 2002, he received an award for excellence from The Hawaii Book Publishers Association. He is a 2008 recipient of an honorary doctorate awarded by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Herb’s Hawaii commemorative stamp for the U.S. Postal Service, celebrating 50 years of statehood, was released in August 2009.
Services for the 82-year-old Kane are pending.