During Valentine’s Day week in February 2014 in the Kaka’ako district of Honolulu over one hundred international and local street artists got together to celebrate ‘Pow! Wow! Hawaii’ – a festival that promotes street art, including the commissioning and creation of a number of large-scale murals painted on the sides of buildings in Honolulu that were in need of perhaps a bit of a spruce up.
One of the invited artists for the festival was the legendary contemporary artist from Dallas, Texas, Ron English. Ron has painted album covers for groups such as the Dandy Warhols, and provided artwork for the Seth Rogan movies ‘This is the End’ and ‘Movie 43’. He is no stranger to street art, and his 2008 piece ‘Abraham Obama’ which melded together the images of Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, became a familiar and somewhat iconic image of the 2008 Presidential campaign.
For Pow! Wow! Hawaii English created his own version of the famous series of paintings of anthropomorphic dogs playing poker, painted now over one hundred years ago by C. M. Coolidge. In English’s version, he replaced the dogs with sea creatures (see image above) – dolphins, sharks, an octopus and a very worried-looking fish. If you ever do get to Honolulu, Ron’s mural can be found at the intersection of Kamini Street and Ilanwai Street. The poker theme of Ron’s street painting has inspired artists to make paintings of professional poker players like Viktor Blom who is best known for being part of the Full Tilt team.
The week-long festival of street art came to a close on the 17th of February with a Hawaiian luau – a traditional Hawaiian feast – at the stunning 50-acre Utopium Estate on the north shore of Honolulu, which nestles next to the Pupukea-Paumalu Forest Reserve. Here the gathered artists had one final chance to show off their artistic endeavours to an appreciative crowd before the festival was officially closed.
If you find yourself in Honolulu during Valentine’s Day week, why not check out the stunning artworks produced during the annual Pow! Wow! Hawaii? It may inspire you to return home and artsy-up a few inspiring walls around your own neighbourhood if you do!