Street art transforms Kakaako - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Street art transforms Kakaako

Jasper Wong Jasper Wong
Kamea Hadar Kamea Hadar
Tiffany Tanaka Tiffany Tanaka
Tisha Tom Tisha Tom
Frank Young Frank Young

Businesses in Kakaako used to be opposed to having their buildings tagged but now many are embracing it.

During the past several years, local and international artists have painted about 40 murals here, making it one of the nation's largest collections of street art.

"Our goal is to cover Kakaako with art and maybe spread beyond that," said Jasper Wong, founder of Pow Wow Hawaii.

"We're already seeing the changes with people walking around Kakaako to find all of the murals and taking pictures of them."

Artists and businesses say the murals are helping transform what was once a light industrial district into a more vibrant, entrepreneurial community.

"Now there's tons of galleries and tons of businesses. There's tons of activities," said Kamea Hadar, lead director of Pow Wow Hawaii.

"The night market, eat the streets -- all of those are things that didn't exist a few years ago."

Added Tiffany Tanaka, creative director of Fresh Cafe:

"It definitely brings a lot of diversity and culture and color to the walls. It brings attention," she said.

Some say they're seeing a bump up in business due to the murals.

"We get a lot of people walking by just to look at the art work and they come to see what kind of shop this is. It all kind of blends in together," said Tisha Tom, co-owner of Tropical Blends Sports.

Rick Farias was one of the skeptics. But after an artist from South Africa painted his mural, he became convinced.

"Originally, I thought it was too busy. It might not be what I was interested in. But after seeing this sample, I decided to give it a shot," said Farias, owner of Great People LLC.

There's still a lot of unauthorized tagging going on in Kakaako. But some shop owners say the murals are helping to cut down on the problem.

Frank Young, owner of K&Y Auto Service says his building was tagged more than six times over the past decade but since Pow Wow Hawaii's artists painted a "Mahalo" mural on his wall earlier this year, the illegal taggers left his wall alone.

"It seems like there's an unwritten rule among taggers that if a wall is already tagged, people don't tag over it. All the walls around here that have been painted nobody tags them anymore," Young said.

Much of the art work will be displayed Sunday. That's when major landowners and the state will showcase plans to redevelop Kakaako.


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