Artist Dedicates Tiki to Evanston Residents

By Jonathan Bullington

September 17, 2009

Evanston residents gathered Sept. 12 at the Dawes Park Lagoon, 1700 Sheridan Road, for the official dedication of 'Ohana, the wood tiki carved by Hawaiian artist Johnnie "Keoni" Durant.

The tiki, carved from the trunk of a 107-year-old white oak, is based on a sculpture found in 1850 in a cave on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i, Durant's home.  Standing 8 feet tall, 'Ohana—which means family or community in Hawaiian—depicts a human figure wearing the helmet of the Hawaiian high chief.  At the base, Durant carved Evanston's seal.

Durant carved the tiki as a gift to residents because of the strong sense of community he felt when first visiting Evanston with girlfriend Heather Shadur last winter.

"We decided I should dedicate to the people because of the love I felt from [Shadur] first," he said.  "When I met the people here, it was the same.  They're all loving and caring."

Durant and Shadur were on hand for the dedication ceremony, which included dancing from The Barefoot Hawaiians and a sacred ceremonial blessing from Hawaiian spiritual guide Donna Cornille.

  Durant's tiki carving sits on display in Dawes Park.
 Hawaiian artist Johnnie "Keoni" Durant listens as his girlfriend Heather Shadur welcomes residents to the dedication ceremony.

Members of the Barefoot Hawaiians dance group perform Sept. 12 at the dedication ceremony at Dawes Park Lagoon.

Hawaiian spiritual guide Donna Cornille blesses the tiki. photos by Jonathan Burlington