Traffic boxes in Kailua are transformed into art
Some previously plain, gray traffic signal boxes in the town of Kailua now feature unique artwork by local artists.
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Some previously plain, gray traffic signal boxes
in the town of Kailua now feature unique artwork by local artists.
Over the weekend, the artists painted nine boxes in Kailua as part of a project by streetARThawaii, a grassroots organization which did a similar project in Kaimuki.
“The idea is to turn these utilitarian traffic boxes into works of art using local
artists,” said Jennifer Noel, founder and organizer of streetARThawaii LLC. “It’s
a win-win. The artist gets more visibility, the community gets beautified. In addition, there’s a sense of the community coming together, having this art through the town.”
The formerly plain boxes now feature colorful flowers, birds, kitesurfers,
bikers, seascapes and mountainscapes.
Near the fire station on the corner of South Kainalu Drive and Kuulei Road, artist Patrick Ching painted plumeria and birds of paradise against a blue sky and aqua ocean. Farther down Kuulei Road, artist Christian Bendo painted a box with a seascape featuring turtles, manta rays and other marine life.
“I’m really happy with how it came out,” said Ching, who usually paints native wildlife. “I wanted to make it look nice and cheerful, and make people smile as they’re coming down this stretch, with the colors of Kailua Bay.”
Many drivers passing by offered encouragement, he said, as he painted under scorching sun and through a bout of showers. One lady gave him a popsicle, and the colors in it ended up in his work of art.
“We kind of adopt the boxes,” he said. “If anyone puts graffiti on it, the artist has got to get it cleaned up and repaint it.”
Near Kapalawai Cafe
&Deli, on the corner of
Kainehe Street and Kailua Road, the box is painted with a variety of colorful flowers and birds, including kokio paired with mynahs, and red ginger paired with
a bulbul, below the word “Aloha.”
Artist Bethany Georges said she hopes her work will serve as a sort of “greeting box” near the entrance to Kailua town. She was going for a high-contrast color scheme, with pairings of different flowers and birds for each panel. On another panel she painted a pair of mejiros (Japanese white-eyes) and a protea that wrapped around the box.
Some blue ocean waves and raindrops are subtly visible in the background as a reference to the beach town, according to Georges, a Kailua resident.
“I hope they resonate with the happy feelings of the box,” she said, “and the joyful, playful spirit of it.”
Noel, who was born and raised in Kailua, said the idea for the street art project was sparked by a conversation with a neighbor who mentioned painted boxes on the mainland. She decided to bring it to Oahu, and though it took some time, she is pleased with the results so far.
The 26 painted boxes in Kaimuki have been received positively, she said. and there was a ripple effect. Businesses near the boxes tend to start planting flowers or adding murals to beautify their exteriors.
Artists who got exposure through their painted boxes have been commissioned to do other works.
The traffic boxes are owned by the City and County of Honolulu, which granted permits for the artists to paint them. Local businesses supported the project through donations.
“Art is subjective,” said Noel, “so I’m hoping there’s something likable on some of the boxes for everyone.”