Street Art Hawaii Kaimuki Beautification Project

On Saturday 22 and 23, a group of artists volunteered to beautify the traffic boxes in Kaimuki.  Though I was only able to participate for one day, I was able to finish a very large (6′ X 10′ in all) traffic box mural on the corner of Waialae Ave and 16th Street – right next to a bus stop. It was a great experience and the neighborhood was very supportive and appreciative!

The design process began with a sketch a couple of weeks prior.  It’s rough, but you can see I stuck fairly close to the plan, just adding a few more native and Polynesian-introduced plants when I found out that the extremely nice family living close to the box would know and enjoy having more plants on the traffic box.  It turned out the neighbor adjacent was an avid gardener and bird aficionado, and they will be looking at this box all the time, so I wanted to make a special adjustment as a thank you to them for their unusually kind hospitality.  They even brewed me a cup of tea using leaves from their own garden! 

If you look at the box in person, make sure to peek at the back.  I painted all the sides – the back was just as important as the front.  The back is inspired by the name of this neighborhood – Kaimuki.  Ka imu ki means “ti plant oven”.  It was an area famous for the many ti plant ovens on its hills.  The ti plant was a very important and useful plant to the Hawaiians.  It is still in heavy use today as the raw material for hula skirts, lei, and also as a leaf that can be used to cook. Hau, a plant used for medicine and for fiber for tough ropes is also on the back.  I painted a lot of taro on the front and sides which is a Hawaiian staple food that is often growing wild in wetland areas.  Finally, I painted pickleweed, pohuehue, a small fern that looks like a 4-leaf clover, and a wild pink hibiscus, all plants that preceded human settlement.

The finished piece was accomplished after a very touching Hawaiian blessing. I felt the power of the ceremony followed me throughout the day, inspiring an unusually productive painting pace.  I skipped lunch to race the sun, moving around the box as the shade moved.  I enjoyed talking to various visitors throughout the work day, especially meeting a lot of the neighbors.  This area really has strong community feeling.  Despite the major road, the neighbors know and care about one another.  Many have lived there a long time.  I was treated exceedingly kindly all day long – countless shakas, “mahalos!”, and nice comments from passing cars, and neighbors offering juice or chocolate milk, etc…  I cannot thank the community of Kaimuki enough for the aloha spirit they showed during this process.  It was very heart warming and made me really want to do this project justice!    

I am very grateful to Jennifer Noel (the organizer), Bill Brizee, and Tracy Brilhante for getting me involved with this project and helping to make it all work.  Thank you to the Kaimuki neighbors who were so supportive and grateful for the project.  They made all the artists feel like a million dollars!  Thank you to the following photographers who kindly posted photos of native birds and flowers online in creative commons like Flickr Commons and Wikimedia Commons to allow for accurate reference photos for this project:  Dan Clark, David Eickhoff, Forest and Kim Starr, John and Karen Hollingsworth, and Rick Obst.  Without the lovely photos I could not have made the various Hawaiian Moorhens and plants as believable. Mahalo nui loa to all.  I hope the traffic box will brighten the area and be something the neighbors enjoy seeing.

  

Ultra Exhibit II: Now on Display at Pauahi Tower

In August, I helped once again to organize and design the hanging schema for Windward Artists Guild’s new show at Pauahi Tower’s gorgeous second floor space. Covered in beautiful travertine stone and topped by soaring coffered ceilings, the spacious venue allows WAG artists to show their large works which offer a valuable interior design option for offices and homes and the chance to collect major works from talented local artists.

“Beach Sentinels”, my piece is at top right.

At the moment, I have one large piece in the show (above at top right), but may add a couple of smaller works later in the show. Speaking of small works, we have a lot of size range in this particular show to fit a wider range of budgets. I think it is a nice compromise between the larger works (more rare in most galleries here) and the smaller work, perfect for gifts as the Holiday season comes closer.  Some of our top plein air artists are in this show, so it’s a must-see for those who love small plein air pieces! The show also has a lot of diversity in 2D genres.  There are landscapes, abstracts, florals, portraits, stilllifes, and more.

What I am most excited about is the flow of the paintings together within the space. I hope as you view the show, you enjoy the juxtapositions and groupings that are designed to let each piece shine while adding harmonious or interesting collaborative elements to the wall as a whole. Grouping works to maximize the beauty and individuality of each piece, and not letting one piece dominate the wall is a difficult but highly satisfying goal. I often go in with a plan and then invite others to help refine the plan – they never disappoint – the final show is the result of the guild’s refinement of my initial ideas, and together we made the show arrangement work very well within this great venue!

All works are for sale and 15% of those sales are donated to Windward Artists Guild whose mission since 1960 has been to stimulate the visual arts on Oahu.  We will use the proceeds to fund our education grants, workshops, and to help sponsor art events that are beneficial to the community.

The Ultra Exhibit is on the second floor (up the escalators or elevators).

Show Dates: August 4, 2018 – End date to be announced later (Likely early 2019)
Pauahi Tower is open from 6 am – 6 pm on weekdays, Saturdays 8 am – 2 pm; Closed Sunday
Location: 1003 Bishop St, Honolulu, HI 96813
Parking entrance is on the left at approximately 1080 Alakea Street (Bishop Square Parking), or you may park in public parking at Alii Place across the street if you prefer a more affordable option with a small walk.