HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tehrell Porter knew he wanted to be an artist when he was in high school and would labor over assignments.
"Reading made me sleepy, so I would draw the pictures in the book," he said.
His doodling eventually led to a career as a full-time artist and a massive mural on South Street at the future site of the rail station.
HART selected him to cover their wooden construction fence with original art.
“They gave me a topic. They said, ‘We want the history of Kakaako.’ It’s mostly client-based. So I said, ‘OK!’” he said.
It’s all there from the painting of a salt pond to portraits of Hawaiian royalty to images of people and politicians that played a part in Kakaako’s growth.
“You have the land of Kakaako, the ahupuaa of Kakaako,” Porter said.
The mural covers nearly 2,600 square feet.
“You’ll see the first cars in Hawaii, the steam cars, the history of electricity at Iolani Palace,” he said.
He’s been working on his mural for over a month, sacrificing time with his wife and two young children. He often paints late into the night then sleeps in his truck so he can get an early start the next morning.
People who see the mural are impressed.
"I think it's so gorgeous," Kakaako resident Elana Boise said. "He put it up so quickly. You can walk by and see him drawing everything. It's incredible how much detail he could put into it."
Chely Nezario lives in a condo close to the mural but didn't know it depicts Kakaako's history.
"No way! Oh, that's so cool," she said.
Hard to believe that not that long ago Porter's art was relegated to air brushing t-shirts and ball caps.
He's been painting murals since 2015.
He studied Kakaako’s history so he could paint an accurate picture.
"I'm still doing research," he said.
Porter has artwork all over the island but Kakaako’s by far his biggest painting. Woven throughout the mural are images of the Hawaiian owl or pueo.
Even the owl’s eyes are mini-paintings. Look closely and you can see reflections of scenery.
And there are other surprises, like a large painting of a pencil that people can place their hands on for a photo op.
"It will look like you're writing," Porter said.
He plans to finish his Kakaalo mural this week. The sad thing is it will be there only as long as the construction barriers are in place.
“Hopefully it’s donated to a school or something. Maybe I’ll try to take pictures and make a book out of it,” he said.