Mural painting underway in Kakaako

It has begun. A hundred artists from across the globe armed with thousands of can of spray paint are calling Kakaako home this week.

And with a traditional blessing from a kahu, “all of you get to share your mana’o, your thoughts your artwork,” an annual event is underway.

They’ve traveled from across the globe, invited artists from as far as Asia, Europe, Australia, and Hawaii have arrived for the 5th annual POW! WOW! Hawaii art, mural and music festival in Kakaako.

“To have the artists come here and be able to do their art on the street, it’s amazing. You can see an art piece in a gallery, but you don’t really have insight into how it was made and the techniques used. Here, people can walk by with their families and see the art being made. As it’s being done, they get to see the process and I think that’s the main thing,” artist Roxanne Ortiz said.

The street, fine, and contemporary artists — half from Hawaii and the other half from abroad — will spend the next five days together painting 60 walls with 4,000 cans of paint.

“I have been doing it since I was a kid, so to be able to showcase it at this level with the talent that comes out here is pretty awesome,” artist Justin Park said.

The finished product is the result of artistic collaboration.

“It’s usually with artists whose work you’re already aware of, so you have an idea of what kind of styles they use. It’s just the back and forth of figuring out how these two things will fit together,” artist Meggs said.

“You’re taking it from paper and then multiplying it by 100 times its size,” Park said.

Murals are painted on buildings approved by landowners and cultural advisors are consulted to ensure the finished product shows respect for the land and surrounding areas.

“For me every year I come, I learn a little bit more about Hawaiian history and I am starting to include those elements in my work now,” Meggs said.

Held every year during Valentine’s Day week the event aims to bring people together with one purpose to create art.

“On top of the walls that are being painted and the amazing art that happens, you kind of walk away with a whole new network of friends and associates,” Meggs said.

“We are husband and wife, but we are also best friends and this is how we met — painting,” Ortiz said.

“It’s more of a really awesome art spectacle, it’s an opportunity for the community to come out and see people do their craft, their work, what they are passionate about,” artist Matthew Ortiz said.

Now in its fifth installment, POW! WOW! Hawaii week also includes a documentary viewing, free art and music lectures, and ends with a large block party finale Saturday night.

Related story: Artists gather in Kakaako for Pow Wow Hawaii

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