Future of two landmark Wyland murals at Honolulu's airport in jeopardy

Future of two landmark Wyland murals at Honolulu's airport in jeopardy
Published: Aug. 17, 2017 at 3:21 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 17, 2017 at 4:23 PM HST
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(Image: Wyland Foundation)
(Image: Wyland Foundation)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Artist Wyland and Hawaiian Airlines are in a bitter battle over the future of two landmark murals at the Pacifica Airport Center on Ualena Street.

The 35,000-square-foot murals titled, "Hawaiian Humpbacks" and "New Millennium," were painted in 1999 and have become signature pieces of art for the area around the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

Hawaiian Airlines purchased the Pacifica Airport Center last year and needs to make repairs to the aging building.

As a result, Wyland says, the airline is threatening to paint over the murals.

In a news conference Thursday, the artist said he offered to donate his time and services to repaint the murals since they have faded over the years.

He said he has all the insurance he needs to do this project and points out that he has done 100 others. But he claims Hawaiian Airlines will only allow that if he signs a contract which would make him an independent contractor hired to paint for $100.  It would take away his ownership of the artwork.

"That means they could just paint over it, five minutes after I'm finished restoring it," Wyland said.

In 1999, Wyland said, he got permission from the owner of the building to paint the murals as a way to raise awareness of global environmental issues.

The building was sold several times since and each time, he says, the murals remained a signature part. Wyland said only when Hawaiian Airlines took possession of it did they contact him saying they wanted to replace it. He said he was stunned and instead offered to update it for free.

A spokesperson for Hawaiian Airlines said the company reached out to Wyland notifying him that repair work would be needed, which includes the re-painting of the building. Alison Croyle said Hawaiian Airlines sought to collaborate with Wyland and even timed the repair work to accommodate the artist's schedule.

"The contract we've asked him to sign is a standard commercial agreement that covers liability and insurance and protects both Wyland and Hawaiian Airlines in the event that any injuries or damages occur during the painting of the building," Croyle said.

Croyle said they hope they can reach an agreement with the artist soon.

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