The Kakaako Concrete Canvas Project – POW WOW HAWAII

Kamea Hadar and Rone

I looked up the word “pow wow” and this is the description I got from Wikipedia: A pow-wow (also powwow or pow wow) is a gathering of North America’s Native people. The word derives from the Narragansett word powwow, meaning “spiritual leader”. This is a fitting term for the social art event known as Pow Wow Hawaii, because much like the native gatherings around a “spiritual leader”, the communities and local artist in Hawaii have gravitated to the purity of this agenda. Likewise, a globe of artists who value process and love of art and creativity over upsells and franchising, are taking notice of this truly artistic endeavor. Jasper Wong is a world renowned contemporary artist, and has the spotlight for conceptualizing Pow Wow Hawaii.

A social event that has roots in Hong Kong and brings local communities, local artist, and world recognized craftsmen and creators together to paint murals around Hawaii. An annual get-together for the celebration of the creative process. A no-holds barred, whirlpool of painters, conceptual artists, taggers, tattooists, sculptors, musicians and inventive minds on the streets of Kaka’ako, Honolulu, Hawaii in February. No one is turned away from the art for lack of knowledge or class, the community is entrenched in the concept and the murals seem to take on a life of their own because of this fluid method.

Hawaii has always been a breeding ground for beautiful expressions. Art is in the culture and all around in the scenery. Jasper Wong’s ultimate goal of changing the aesthetic of our state to a work of art itself, with no boundaries of where one creative mind begins and another one ends is nothing but pure elation to my mind. Can you imagine if this had been a socially acceptable process in the past? If I could visit Manhattan and walk down the streets laden with the art of the local community and all the great talent that have passed through, or called New York home? A painting started by Pablo Picasso, amended by John Lennon, washed over by Andy Warhol, with contributions from the local street artists. That alone is an inspirational thought. The fact that it’s taking shape in our world today gives hope that even without the government support that the Arts needs, it can’t and won’t be stopped, and a new generation of intuitive minds and open hearts are pushing the boundaries so that the future of the Arts is kept bright.

The 808 Urban x POW WOW Hawaii Youth Art Workshops finally give a place where young “Urban Artists” can learn in after school and Saturday art classes. These workshops explore contemporary art and its influence on commercial culture from the past and present. Students learn about changing social notions regarding contemporary public “street” art, while exploring a multitude concepts, including design, color theory, symbolism, and artistic elements. The overall teachings are of self-expression, cultural awareness, as well as respect for community and nature. Pow Wow Hawaii is a shining example of how art influences culture for the better, and that the human element is most important in views and validity of expression. I can only hope the all the major cities in world follow suit and life becomes one giant art gallery, full of collaborative hearts and minds.

Article by Allen Wilson


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