For the past 7 years, the small and emerging community of Kaka’ako has become the destination for artists around the world making their annual pilgrimage to paradise. POW! WOW! Hawaii has become the hub for street art in its hometown of Hawaii, but has expanded the festival’s reach bringing street art to locations across the globe including Long Beach, Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong.
This was my fourth year taking part in the art festival and this year the organizers made a conscious decision to downscale the week long flagship event in an effort to better service the artists and keep the scale of the event manageable. Yet, it’s quite apparent the cultural and economic impact that the event has had on the city.
The Netherlands-based duo Telmo Miel (Telmo Pieper & Miel Krutzmann)
The beauty of the festival is the proximity of everything. Most murals are within a 1 mile radius of Lana Lane Studios, the HQ of POW! WOW! Hawaii. With camera in tow I made my rounds during the last couple days to experience a bit of the work in progress and the final murals. Afterwards, I spoke with Jasper Wong, the founder of POW! WOW!, to get his thoughts on the event and what lies ahead in the future.
JOHN PANGILINAN: This year’s Hawaii event felt a bit more intimate than previous years, with less artists and having most of the murals in one concentrated area. Was this by design?
JASPER WONG: We scaled down the amount of artists involved in this year’s Hawaii festival. It’s always been a struggle managing over 100 artists and trying to dedicate quality time to each individual project. We decided to have less artists, so we can better manage the project and assist every artists to the best of our abilities. Also, we have always had the murals in a concentrated area for our Hawaii project. We want it to be a walkable open-air gallery.
For you, how is the Hawaii event when compared to the other POW! WOW! events?
Hawaii is our hometown, so it holds a very special place to our hearts. It’s also our flagship event, since it’s where it really all started for us. We are always going to try to put our best foot forward for our Hawaii festival.
Southern California-based duo The Draculas (Gary Musgrave & Jeff McMillan)
Do you have any other plans for the festival?
We want to find the best ways to make all the festivals sustainable and spread it across the globe. We are also putting a concentrated effort into growing the music aspect of the festival. Music and art are natural companions.
What are the challenges when putting an event such as this together? And what do you find rewarding when its all said and done?
Setting up the pieces so 70+ artists can paint public murals on every corner of a neighborhood is a monumental task. Every part of it is a challenge and it doesn’t get easier due to the constantly changing variables. The most rewarding part is seeing the participants and people of Hawaii enjoying the work we do. As well as seeing the positive effects of art in people’s lives.
Spanish art duo PichiAvo
What other locations will POW! WOW! be held this year?
We are currently working on projects in Washington D.C., Long Beach, South Korea, San Jose, Israel, Guam, Japan, Taiwan, etc.
Jasper Wong, founder of POW! WOW!