Reminder: Hawaii is a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Throughout most of history, it’s proven a culture difficult to penetrate. That also ensures the Islands’ heritage stays rich and seemingly unbreakable. So aside from the non-stop influx of sun-burned tourists sporting Aloha shirts, not much else coming from outside leaves much of a lasting impression. But once Jasper Wong founded ” POW! WOW! Hawaii” in 2011, the international art community became a member of the ohana. San Fran-based artist Chad Hasegawa, who grew up on Oahu and gladly returned for “POW! WOW!” enthused:
“If they had something like this for artists in Hawaii back in the day, I would’ve never had to leave.”
The 10-day kaleidoscope of expression that is “POW! WOW!” Hawaii features an open canvas of ideas and creativity by spotlighting the overall creation of art. And while it includes forums, music and plenty of eye-popping street murals, this year’s “POW! WOW!” was bookended by two marquee gallery exhibits.
Breaking the ice first was the “Second Annual Exploring The New Contemporary Art Movement” exhibition at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, curated by Andrew Hosner from Los Angeles’ Thinkspace Gallery. The closing weekend exhibition featured the RVCA Art Show, curated by P.M. Tenore.
The opening reception on February 7th saw the packed house split between perusing one hundred and three vivid wall-hangers in the museum and a vodka/Purps-infused dance party outside in the gardens, guided by the beats of SuperCW, Mike D, Gotaro and Mr. JPatt.
For the second-straight year, Hosner was instrumental in bringing together a bevy of different styles and techniques from around the globe and also locally in Hawaii. But one thing remained constant, the curator explained:
“I chose a 12” x 12” display for this exhibit because it levels the playing field and makes it easier for the viewer to appreciate each piece separately as well as the collection as a whole.”
In its entirety, “POW! WOW! Hawaii” features the works of forty visiting visual artists andforty local Hawaiians. And the Islanders’ radiant-yet-varied works are a far cry from the stereotypical, kitschy floral prints and hula dancers of their ancestors. Hawaii’s contemporary art culture is clearly on the rise and filled with a blend of the gritty, hip-hop-infused street feel, mind-bending psychedelia patterns and socio-cultural, conscious messages. For those on the inside, “POW! WOW!” is a chance to show the global art community that Honolulu has just as much of a thriving scene as its larger, more-publicized mainland counterparts. Said Oahu’s Aaron ‘Angry Woebots’ Martin, aka Woes:
“I’ve been doing this [art] since 2002 and always had to travel internationally for collaborations at events like this, so to have a show like ‘POW! WOW!’ here in Hawaii makes me really proud of where I came from.”
Outside the gallery exhibit, Woes is also one of the painters participating in the live murals adorning buildings, garages and other monoliths in 37 locations dotted throughout Honolulu’s Kaka’ako district. The neighborhood is lined with hard-nosed auto-mechanic shops and homeless wanderers in city parks, mingling with upscale apartment buildings, hipster bars and boutiques. And now, with two years of “POW! WOW!” murals blessing its streets, it’s clear Kaka’ako is destined to be Honolulu’s newest hub for urban and modern art.
Wander around this ‘hood long enough during “POW! WOW!” and you’ll be drawn to obscure corners, warehouses, and alleys by the rattles and sprays of paint cans. Some of this year’s highlights include local tattoo artist and underground street muralist Katch 1’s massive under-the-sea wall (photo above; 3D glasses recommended), Chad Hasegawa’s nine-panels of grizzly bears, Woes and Nosego’s collabo on the side of Lana Lane Studios, and LA’s David Flores’ tribute to Hawaii surf legends Eddie Aikau and Duke Kahanamoku, shown joining hands alongside of Kaka’ako’s Mother Waldren Park.
Flores’ lasting message, perhaps, best transcends “POW! WOW!”’s overall purpose — bringing international artists to Hawaii to leave a lasting impression that the local community will cherish well into the future.
And his inspiration behind the six-wall mural? Flores, shaking his spray can in the warm, tropical breeze, simply said:
What follows are photos taken throughout Honolulu during POW! WOW! Hawaii. All images courtesy of Mike Cianciulli. Give him a follow on Instagram.
February 7th’s Opening Reception of the Second Annual Exploring The New Contemporary Art Movement Exhibition kicked off the 10-day extravaganza of artistic expression.
The evening saw a packed house of art lovers at the Honolulu Museum of Art School.
“I chose a 12” x 12” display for this exhibit because it levels the playing field and makes it easier for the viewer to appreciate each piece separately as well as the collection as a whole,” said Andrew Hosner, who curated the exhibit.
The exhibit was on display at the Honolulu Museum of Art School from February 7th through February 18th.
103 different 12″ x 12″ adorned the walls of the gallery.
Some pieces were more intricate than others, offering varied styles of mixed media.
The exhibit proved that Honolulu has a thriving art scene, comparable to its larger, more-publicized mainland counterparts.
L.A.’s Thinkspace Gallery provided much of the art, although there were plenty of local Hawaiian pieces on display as well.
See The Light by POW! WOW! Hawaii co-director Kamea Hadar.
After perusing the gallery, much of the crowd flocked outside to the garden area for a vodka/Purps-infused dance party guided by the beats of SuperCW, Mike D, Gotaro and Mr. JPatt.
The man behind the exhibit — Andrew Hosner from LA’s Thinkspace Gallery.
POW! WOW! Hawaii also featured 37 live murals dotted throughout Honolulu’s Kaka’ako district. Chad Hasegawa, working his way through nine-panels of grizzly bears.
“If they had something like this for artists in Hawaii back in the day, I would’ve never had to leave,” said San Fran-based artist Chad Hasegawa, who grew up on Oahu and gladly returned for POW! WOW!
L.A.’s David Flores’ tribute to Hawaii surf legends Eddie Aikau and Duke Kahanamoku, shown joining hands alongside of Kaka’ako’s Mother Waldren Park.
One of the many joys of street murals is the reaction from random passersby.
Underground street muralist Katch 1 was handing out 3D glasses to enhance the viewing of this massive under-the-sea wall. (The finished mural is at the top of this page.)
New York’s Vincent Di Nguyen takes a break from this muted tone cartoon. Check out his Instagram for the finished work (with a colorful surprise).
Woes and Nosego’s work-in-progress on the side of Lana Lane Studios in Kaka’ako. (Check their finished product here.) “I’ve been doing this [art] since 2002 and always had to travel internationally for collaborations at events like this,” said Oahu’s Woes. “So to have a show like POW! WOW! here in Hawaii makes me really proud of where I came from.”