A new wave of creative energy has hit the streets — and literally, the walls — of Kakaako as the 10th Pow! Wow! Hawaii gets underway this week.
The street art festival presents contemporary artists from throughout the world with the opportunity to paint on the walls of local businesses in the formerly light industrial neighborhood that is now home to trendy restaurants, shops and high-rise condos.
Jasper Wong, founder and lead director, said Pow! Wow! has grown every year, and is now held in 17 cities worldwide. The last festival was held in December in Okinawa, Japan. The Hawaii festival features more than 90 artists painting at least 80 murals, along with lectures, exhibits and other events.
Artists began painting their assigned walls Monday, and will put the final touches on them this weekend.
>> Photo Gallery: Pow! Wow! Hawaii artists refresh murals in Kakaako
“Well this is our 10th year so we wanted to bring a lot of artists we worked with in the past, and celebrate that we’ve lasted this long out here,” said Wong. “I would say 60% of the roster is local, based or from Hawaii, and then we have artists from all over the place, Montreal, Germany, Spain…pretty much every part of the world at this point, that want to come to Hawaii and paint in the streets of Kakaako.”
The murals are clustered mostly around the Cooke Street corridor mauka of Ala Moana, and along Auahi and Pohukaina streets.
They range as far south as the Children’s Discovery Center at Kakaako Waterfront Park, and as far north as Waimanu Street. To the west, there are murals along Halekauwila and Punchbowl streets, and to the east, murals behind the Consolidated Theatres parking lot at Ward.
Most participating artists use aerosol paint graffiti, and some are strictly graffiti artists or muralists, but others have backgrounds in fine art, illustration, and graphic and tattoo design.
Returning artists include Kevin Lyons of New York, Drew Merritt of Los Angeles, Hawaii artists Solomon Enos, Kai Kaulukukui and groups including 7Sketches and Wooden Wave.
Local artists Kate Wadsworth and Shar Tuiasoa are collaborating on a mural on the Fisher Hawaii building facing Pohukaina Street.
Wadsworth is depicting a girl reading a book, while Tuiasoa is creating a “wonderland of color and craziness” representing the world inside the book.
At the intersection of Coral and Pohukaina streets, Kailua artist Bethany Georges is creating a female figure sitting between symbols of land and sea. On one side, there is a nene goose nestled among land plants, and on the other, a turtle swimming in the sea.
“So I wanted to evoke her sense of stillness in the intersection where land and sea meet,” said Georges, who is brushing, rather than spraying, the paint on. “She will be emanating a light that reflects off of the leaves.”
Sponsors for Pow! Wow! Hawaii 2020 include the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawaiian Airlines, Alohilani Resort, City Mill, and Zippy’s, among numerous others.
The murals have become a draw for visitors, particularly from Japan, as well as an entourage of photographers from around the world who flock to Kakaako to document the fleeting works of art.