Feb 15, 2016
POW! WOW! Returns To Ward Village
For the past six years, artists and musicians from around the world have congregated in Honolulu for POW! WOW! a weeklong art and music festival.
Across the city, empty walls are transformed into vibrant murals; late-night parties and mixers are scheduled; lectures on creativity draw substantial crowds; and music fills the warm city air. In short, when POW! WOW! comes to town, town comes to life.
But it wasn't always this way. When the event's founder, Jasper Wong—who co-owns the hip retail storefront Big Bad Wolf in Ward Warehouse—first brought the event to life, he ran into more than a few hurdles. Understandably, business owners were wary of allowing graffiti artists to use their walls as a canvas. But after assuring them that the event was about art, not vandalism; that it was beautifying the city's landscape, POW! WOW! gained momentum and legitimacy. Quickly, it snowballed into the highly anticipated festival it is today, with events held across the world.
As it's core, POW! WOW! is about bettering a neighborhood and changing our city through the art we create. Starting last week, across Kaka'ako, Ward Village, and pockets within the city, both local and foreign artists made their mark and left us viewing our city through a new lens. Fostering the arts has become an integral part of what makes Ward Village so unique; it's an integral part of the fabric of our thriving neighborhood. That's precisely why we were so excited to have famed German artist 1010 paint a mesmerizing mural on our grounds.
Hailing from Hamburg, 1010 (whose work has appeared across Europe, the United States, Asia, and even graced a Panamanian beachside town) brings rich color and masterfully manifests layers of depths from a single dimension. The piece, which is composed in his classic motif, is meant to be subjective. When asked about his iconic style, 1010 said that the "holes, abyss, passage and portals" are meant to be interpreted; what lies within the voids and depths he creates is up to us to decide.
While in Honolulu, 1010 drew a sizeable crowd to the wall flanking the TJ Maxx building that would house his POW! POW! mural. Eager to see his work come to fruition, residents of the city patiently watched the artists transform the wall from a seemingly unremarkable structure into a gripping work of art.
Throughout POW! WOW!, this scene—that of art lovers meandering the city and watching murals take form—has played itself out countless times throughout the duration of the festival. But there's so much more to POW! WOW! than the murals alone. A true celebration of the arts, the annual event includes an exhibit featuring an array of work from the artists involved in POW! WOW! at the Honolulu Museum of Art that has received rave reviews and drawn in throngs of people from the island.
As POW! WOW! becomes more entrenched in Honolulu's creative scene, the city has come to anticipate its return every year. While we may be a town known for our dreamy landscapes and perfect weather, our affinity to attract and transform neighborhoods through the art we create is rewriting our identity. In the coming years, as POW! WOW! continues to assert itself in the fabric of the city, our thriving art scene may become the latest characteristic to help define Honolulu.
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