Pow Wow Hawaii 2012
What do you get when you harness the collective creativity of Hawaii’s graffiti artists together in about four urban blocks? You get Pow Wow Hawaii 2012. It’s the second annual celebration of urban art in Hawaii. Started last year by organizer Jasper Wong, this year’s event is partnering with major landowner Kamehameha Schools to help transform the industrial area of Kakaako into an urban art community.
Says graffiti artist John Hina, “Instead of destroying the community, let’s build it up through art.” John and Estria Miyashiro completed a super-hero mural of twin alii (chiefs) protecting the bones of King Kamehamha I, the legendary king who united the Hawaiian Islands.
Most of the murals in this blog are in progress. Artists started a few days ago, and the event itself will culminate with a public reception on Saturday night. For most artists, that means working into the wee hours tonight and all day tomorrow. Fortunately, a few of them had time to “talk story.”
Artists Kai’ili William Kaulukukui and Shad Kaleolani Kaluhiwa (fondly known as Chicken and Fish) found their inspiration from the Kakaako area itself, which used to be a fishpond. In the Hawaiian culture, your lineage is stacked on your head, and so their imagery shows a fisherman with his ancestors behind him. Says, Kai’ili, “Our ancestors are there to help guide our decisions. They define who we are, and we take it with us wherever we are.”
Next to Shad and Kai’li, Solomon Enos had already completed his mural. “In native cultures, the systems within the body are connected to the systems of the land,” says Solomon. Or in other words, “The health of the people is related to the health of the environment. This holistic connectivity brings indigenous and Western science together.” He explains that his mural–a woman with her organs exposed–has a certain shock value which is an important aspect to making a statement. He further explained that in the Hawaiian culture, art was not created for art’s sake, but rather, their creativity was put into the depiction of their gods and the artistry of their daily tools. So for Solomon, art must have a purpose–something to say.
Eukarezt had a can of paint in hand when we interrupted him. He explained he was a last minute entry, and happier for it. The owl represents wisdom and the lantern spreads that wisdom in the form of light. He went on to say that the cost of the paint–$10 a can–influenced his design. When many of the other artists saw him with the cheaper cans, they brought over extra supplies, which resulted in small areas of color so there would be continuity throughout. Eukarezt likened his experience to a parable in the Bible in which Jesus feeds the masses with just a few loaves and fishes. A little bit of paint goes a long way.
The sharing of paint is also a testament to the nature of this project in which many hands are joining together in the success of this project. Prime, who for years has run art projects involving teens in Honolulu via his nonprofit 808 Urban, is one of the key forces behind this year’s Pow Wow which will include 40 guest artists from Hawaii and Australia, students from Roosevelt and McKinley high schools, Voyager Charter School, Kamehameha Schools and the YMCA.
Prime and his team are creating a building-long mural on Cooke Street that will feature depictions of Hawaiian gods.
Although the murals for 2012 will be finished this weekend, the public exhibit will remain on display on buildings throughout Kakaako. And like the enthusiasm for this project, the community gallery will only get larger every year. Check back next week for photos of the completed works. Or better still, take a stroll and see them for yourself.
Maps are located at the Loft in Space, 831 Queen St. or link to google map. Mural locations include Auahi Business Center, 661-669 Auahi St., Voyager Charter School, 547 Halekauwila St., and Fisherman’s Wharf, 1009 Ala Moana Blvd.
The public reception for Pow Wow Hawaii is 6-10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18 at Loft in Space, with DJ music by Jules Gayton. It’s open to all ages. An after-party for Pow Wow begins at 10 p.m. Saturday at Nextdoor, 43 N. Hotel St., with live music by ALT/AIR and DJs Anton Glamb, Kowai Kowai, DJ Anit and B Maj; $10, 21 and older. More at Info: powwowhawaii.com