Business owners satisfied with art transformation in Kakaako

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Venture into Kakaako and you will see color, innovation and art beyond your imagination.

“Its just transformed, it looks so much better now than it did literally two years ago,” Kakaako businessman Shawn “Doc” Boyd said.

Five months ago, Pow Wow Hawaii — a group of 100 contemporary and street artists from Hawaii across the globe — painted 30 murals in and around Kakaako to reinvent the urban landscape.

“You see families with their kids just cruising through and I think because there is more visibility there’s more art, it’s a positive Kakaako feeling. We have less nocturnal riff-raff and so its nice,” Taste Table chef, Mark Noguchi said.

As a result, business is booming in the area.

“Definitely more foot traffic, it’s not just locals, its visitors too so its pretty cool,” Noguchi said.

“The traffic has increased about 60 to 75 percent,” Boyd said.

Trolleys and commercial buses now frequent the area offering tours of the murals and community.

Photographers and production crews are using the murals as backdrops.

“Yeah, all the time, commercials you see all the fashion people come down,” Noguchi said.

“If anything it exposes people to art, or to local art, or international art in Hawaii then that’s a plus,” Pow Wow Hawaii founder Jasper Wong said.

The non-profit organization launched its merchandise program on Tuesday, which also showcases the featured artists and benefits the organization.

“Sunglasses and hats and all types of stuff and we just opened that up and when people buy from that all the proceeds go back in to supporting our non-profit and our programs in schools and stuff like that,” Wong said.

This was their third and largest project. Now, Pow Wow Hawaii wants to take the painting festival to Jamaica, Israel and Taiwan and even further.

“We are trying to spread it beyond Hawaii’s shores,” Wong said.

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