FB Pixel

Icky Love Art Loft & Gallery with Jaimie Nagle

By Sarah Hodges


I came upon Icky Love Art Loft & Gallery on a Friday afternoon with my friend who’s visiting from Germany. We’ve just come from sipping hot chai tea at Tradition Coffee Roasters in Kapa’a Quarry, Kailua. It’s been cold and blustery all morning, and the respite inside this artsy local warehouse has offered us just the kind of calm, creative setting we were looking for. The barista points to an art gallery up the staircase inside the coffee shop warehouse, encouraging us to go check it out. We glance at each other with smiles, knowing we share the same kind of adventurous, curious spirit.

The light of the studio gallery glows over us as we get about halfway up the stairs. Jaimie Nagle, the owner, heart, soul and brains of the whole operation, greets us with her warming, grounded presence. As I walk in I feel as if I know her somehow. She carries that kind of familiar, inviting presence.

My eyes travel around the room. Tables of displayed art, from the tiniest hand-crafted, wheel-thrown tea set I’ve ever seen, to marvelous hanging prints and macrame wall art. Ceramic cups of many sizes and colors sit on the shelves like a laughing imagination sneezed the most brilliant jewels of joy out onto the shelves. Inside some of the mugs are little surprise messages stamped into the clay. There’s a rack of locally handmade up-cycled clothing, and handmade cards near the register. I’m excited by the variety, all very cohesively and harmoniously displayed together.

I feel as if I’m in some kind of art gallery fairytale.

My friend and I get to talking with Jaimie, the gallery’s master ceramicist.

Jaimie comes from Florida. As a child, nobody exposed her to visual art. I find this hard to believe, having grown up with paints and crayons falling in or out of every corner of my childhood life. Jaimie says she knew at age seven that she wanted to be a writer. She studied English at the University of Florida and then went on to get her Master’s at the University of Washington, focusing on poetry. Inspiration led her to Hawai’i for her doctorate in Creative Writing and Poetry at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, where she came face to face with the monster most PhD students know well: stress.

Up until age 29, she never took an art class. Jaimie finally made it into a ceramics class to help relieve some of the tensions of dissertation writing. She convinced a TA art teacher to let her attend the ceramics class and she got hooked from the first day.

After finishing her doctorate, Jaimie diverted from her imagined path of becoming an English professor. Her intuition called her loudly and strongly towards art. Just before she gave birth to her first child, Jaimie officially opened her art studio. She named it “Icky Love” – a play on turning mud, which many consider as ‘icky,’ into something someone can love. She explains with a laugh how having a newborn also mirrored this playful duality, and Jaimie says, “the name stuck.”

She spent the first years working from her home studio, but eventually having clients come to her home turned cumbersome, and a new opportunity appeared.

Almost exactly one year ago, Jaimie came across her current gallery space in Kapa’a Quarry. Jamie’s practical mind said, ‘no, no, no’ to a venue tucked away in a lesser-traveled part of Kailua, but Jaimie’s spirit knew the spot was exactly right. Her intuition prevailed again. Within eight days she signed the lease for the gallery space and reached out to a handful of local Hawai’i artists who she knew and loved.

The gallery features mostly women artists of Hawai’i, many of whom are Native Hawaiian. “It’s a small shop,” says Jaimie, “but it’s becoming mightier and mightier.”

“Icky Love” became Icky Love Art Loft & Gallery. Jaime brings the joy of art to people who might not otherwise have easy access to it. Because creating art helped her get through some very stressful times many years ago, she’s making art available to others who might really need it, through Icky Love’s monthly art workshops.

Also, as someone who deeply enjoys and values writing, I’m happy to find out that Jaimie still gets to delve into her writing life by leading a little local publication called “Tinfish Press”, the same publication that inspired her move to Hawai’i to study with its founder.

Jaimie continues to balance and juggle her many passions, from being an artist to gallery owner to teacher, writer, and mother. She continues to create custom ceramics, gleaning inspiration from seeing other artwork, just as reading other writers’ works inspires her writing.

I can hear a common theme running through Jaimie’s very creative life – a big dose of trusting her intuition and visions, and an equally large serving of joyful exploration and play. I leave the gallery fully inspired, and can’t wait to attend one of her ceramic workshops.

Look for Jaimie’s handmade mugs at PeleKai Coffee in the near future.

Learn more about Icky Love Art Loft & Gallery and Jaimie Nagle’s work here:


Get the Still & Moving App

This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)