Working on a piece inspired by the pōhaku that line the Wailuku River, EHA’s mural elements po (night, blackness, original darkness) and haku (to make or invent) can already be identified throughout the developing artwork. The team’s featured ‘ōlelo no‘eau is ‘a‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia (no task is too big when done together by all), a fitting proverb that acknowledges all of the work and manaʻo that goes into developing a place-based public art program like SMALL TOWN * BIG ART.
As the composition and theme continue to unfold, Hōaka Delos Reyes is one of the figures that can be seen in the artwork. A talented expert in the field of stone-on-stone carving (kālai pōhaku), he is one of the rare people on the planet who can do this type of carving.
Friend Kyle Nakanelua says of him: “Hoaka talks to stones. But that’s not the amazing thing. They talk back! He has to call for the stone, ask for volunteers among the stones that exist. Once a stone appears, he negotiates with it. In the process, the stone tells him where it wants to go. Listening to stones … that’s the unseen ability he has.”
“We have a saying in Hawaiian: He ola pōhaku, he make pōhaku. Stone gives life, stone takes life.” - Hōaka Delos Reyes
Also observable in the artwork is the kukui nut tree – a symbol of enlightenment, protection, guidance and peace, with spiritual powers that are still believed to flow through Hawaiian culture and its ceremonies. Brought to Hawaii by Polynesians migrating to the Hawaiian Islands, the kukui was highly revered by ancient Hawaiians for its many uses, and became an essential part of life, providing raw materials for medicine and healing, dye, canoe-building, and most commonly, for light (both literally and spiritually). The word “kukui” means light or torch; its English name is ‘candlenut.’ In 1959, the kukui tree was made the official tree emblem for the state of Hawai‘i.
If you are able to, please stop by our live mural making exhibit at 2049 Wells Street now through Nov 30, 2019 to meet SMALL TOWN * BIG ART artists Amanda, Elmer, Kirk and Noble and tell us what you see!
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Amanda Joy Bowers is a visual artist born and raised in Haiku, Maui. She attended Wake Forest University as a Presidential Scholar for Distinguished Achievement in Art, a university Ambassador for the Arts, and a Richter Scholar for International Independent Studies. While attending Wake Forest University she studied old master painting as a certified Louvre copyist in Paris, France. She then conducted independent research on the art of Balinese woodcarving and Javanese batik textiles in Indonesia. She graduated in 2012 with a major in Studio Art and a double minor in Art History and Entrepreneurship. She now is a freelance fine artist and the owner and designer of Skelefin Studios, LLC.
Kirk Kurokawa, a local boy of Hawaiian, Japanese, and Chinese descent, was born and raised on Maui. He received a BFA with distinction in Illustration from the California College of Arts and Crafts. In 2001, he returned home to Maui, became a self-taught oil painter and pursued his dream of becoming a fine artist. Kurokawa’s paintings focus predominantly on the “simple, everyday life moments” and have been showcased in various exhibitions throughout the state. Although he often paints native birds, flowers and locals of Hawaii, he is best known for his portraiture. He has been in every installment of the Schaefer Portrait Challenge, and was awarded the Juror’s Choice Award in 2006 and the People’s Choice Award in 2015. He is also the first and only native Hawaiian to paint the official Portrait of the Governor of the State of Hawaii.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Elmer Bio has always been deeply connected to art. His Father, well known as the airbrush guy in Maui, convinced him to help out airbrushing live at the county fair one year in 2002 and it’s been an annual duty for him ever since. Aside from taking custom orders for banners and t-shirts in high school, Elmer also received state and national juried art awards. His consistent pace and high demand as a custom airbrush artist has kept him busy for quite some time, and recently mural painting has been added to his professional career as a local business owner. In the past years he has been an essential part in creating 3 public murals that involved 2 public schools in Wailuku and a cornerstone business in Kahului, and he also found time to step back into competition earning himself a finalist in the highly respected tri-annual Schaefer Portrait Challenge.
Noble Richardson, born and raised in Wailuku, Maui. He attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and received his BFA. His work was exhibited in the Schaefer Portrait Challenge 2009 receiving the Marion Freeman People’s Choice Award, Schaefer Portrait Challenge 2015 and 2018, Malama Wao Akua 2013 receiving the Art of Conservation Award and 2016, featured in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center Surfing Hawai‘i exhibit and Art Maui 2019. He continues his passion for art, and painting subjects that have a strong culturally rooted story, and creating work on multi-media surfaces. He is also a Wailuku Elementary School art teacher; teaching students from K-5, freelance artist and muralist.
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