POW! WOW! Hawaii brings color to urban Honolulu


The effect of the sprawling Kakaako murals on viewers.


The reaction from onlookers when the beauty of the art hits them.

POW! WOW! Hawaii started in 2011 with the goal of beautifying communities with public art and bring(ing) people together,” said Jasper Wong, the event’s founder and lead director.

Wong is also a street artist and helped contribute to the festivities with a few murals of his own.

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Beautifying Honolulu

For the past six years, POW! WOW! has raged an art revolution throughout the drab office buildings and warehouses that dominate the heart of Honolulu. The event happens during the week of Valentine’s Day, when local and international artists unite to bring to life the surrounding buildings with paint.

The husband and wife duo, known as Wooden Wave, is among local artists that were joined by more than 20 international artists this year. Other modern artistic contemporaries include musicians, like DJ Cipha Sounds, and the Honolulu Night Market, a monthly pop-up event in the area.

I believe POW! WOW! is finding its stride and becoming a more recognized festival in the global scene,” Wong said. “We accomplished eight different festival around the world in 2016.”

These festivals were in major metropolitan areas, such as Kobe, Japan and Hong Kong, China.

Educating young artists

Locally, POW! WOW! has expanded since 2011. Evolving from mere street art, the event has also turned its attention to educating today’s youth.

POW! WOW! School of Art brings together students islandwide to create murals, discuss art and learn about various artistic elements.

In tandem with that, students might be selected to attend the POW! WOW! School of Music. This is where they learn about composition and different instruments. They also get a chance to perform their own music at POW! WOW! events.

POW! WOW! aims to bring art to the people and provide exposure to artists everywhere,” Wong said.

Collaborating in art

In addition, a new local connection with Los Angeles-based ThinkSpace gives POW! WOW! the chance to expand into the world of collaborative art.

During the latest festival, the two organizations came together for the 4th annual exhibition.

This year’s theme was “Exploring the New Contemporary Movement.”

To represent this topic, ThinkSpace chose art pieces from around the world. This included a special installation by Oak Oak, a French street artist.

We have definitely seen more foot traffic around the murals and how it has changed the perception of Kakaako from an industrial sector to a hip neighborhood,” Wong said.



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