pow! wow! hawaii | 1ill510

This past February, my wife and I had the privilege of being asked to document the world’s premiere mural festival: Pow! Wow! Hawaii. We said yes without hesitation.

Pow! Wow! Hawaii is a week-long mural festival that originally began in the Kaka’ako district of Honolulu, but has since expanded internationally. For the past eight years, the event has worked to bring art to the public sector and foster collaboration between artists.  

The art celebrates the surrounding environment with color, creativity, social awareness. There is always something wonderful to be found in the Kaka’ako district of Honolulu, Hawaii. 

But it’s the sense of community during Pow! Wow! Hawaii that makes everything extraordinary. 

Jokes and conversation complement the side work prior to painting, along with the herding of cats, food breaks, dancing and drinking. There is a sense of family. I have never felt more at home or in a situation where I could instantly make friends. Everyone was comfortable in their own skin, and they wanted others to feel comfortable, too. 

Over 60 artists from places like Japan, Australia, South Korea, Berlin, Michigan and Ohio, 10 directors from different Pow! Wow! festivals around the world, sponsors and volunteers came together to make the event possible. It was for the sake of the art, but also for the sake of being human and channeling our efforts to create something greater than ourselves. 

It was hard work. There were successes. There were failures. But what I observed most was persistence, driven by love and passion for the craft. This fueled ten 17-hour days filled with positive thinking and elevated spirits. Even when Mother Nature down poured for four hours, no one was bummed or deterred. Some of the artists were savages and even kept on painting, others got down with a beer and had a phat black book session. 

There aren’t enough great things to say about what the founders Jasper, Kamea and Jeff have cultivated for this event over the years. The sense of community is incredible. My experience with Pow! Wow! has been one of the greatest in my life and has shown me what to strive for and what is possible. 

words by ian lundie