Kakaako murals getting colorful makeover with new art

( Image: Hawaii News Now )
( Image: Hawaii News Now )

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Those cool looking giant-sized murals covering the sides of buildings in Kakaako are being painted over. But don't be alarmed, new artwork is replacing them.

"We have a one-year lifespan for most of the murals. Some stay longer," said Jasper Wong of POW! WOW! Worldwide.

Wong and his artist friends started the art movement in Kakaako eight years ago, convincing skeptical business owners to let them spruce up buildings with portraits, cartoon art, and concept pieces.

It's turned Kakaako into another tourist district within Honolulu. You see so many tourists coming around this area all the time to check out the murals. That helps boost small businesses like shops and restaurants," he said.

The art festival has gone worldwide. Last year POW! WOW! artists dressed up buildings in Washington, D.C, Long Beach, San Jose, Israel, Guam and South Korea, just to name a few locations.

Along the way Wong and his associates interact with mural painters. Many of them are among the 60 artists invited to create 50 new Kakaako murals during POW! WOW! Hawaii's event.

"This is probably like the top of the mountain for mural festivals," said California artist Ricky Watts.

Using spray paint Watts and an artist from Belgium are covering a wall on Cooke Street with the painting of a woman falling back into a rainbow of colors. .

"I wouldn't say there's a message that we're trying to convey. It's just a collaboration of our two styles," he said.

Around the corner Atlanta painter Tran Nguyen uses oils and brushes to create the image of a woman floating on a brick wall.

"You don't know how porous the surface is going to be, the grooves that are in the brick. You have to be a bit more flexible when you're working outside," she said.

On Lana Lane, Kailua artist Kate Wadsworth covers a wall with different shades of green and broad areas of white.

It's a big barracuda," she said. "The other side is going to be two boys fishing in a fishing boat. It's inspired by my neighbors," she said.

POW! WOW! Worldwide's colorful transformation of building exteriors has caught the eye of other cities and towns that see photographs of the finished pieces on the internet and social media sites.

"There's a lot of people all over the world that see the benefit, the positive impact that public art has on a community, on a neighborhood and on a city in general," Wong said.

The new Kakaako murals should be finished by this weekend.

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