Herb Kane, a legendary Big Island painter, answers back to the thieves who stole one of his greatest works.
By Leslie Lang
COURTESY OF HERB KANEThe recreation of Kane’s Punaluu mural.
Renowned artist Herb Kane has had the last word over thieves who walked off with his mural of Punaluu in 2005. It was a bold and startling act when crooks used what Kane says was probably a circular saw and generator to carve the mural-containing wall—20 feet long and 10 feet high—into pieces before hauling it off from the Sea Mountain Golf Resort.
When police told Kane of the robbery, he was angry and disgusted. But he eventually channeled those feelings into recreating the piece. Over three months, he worked on a new and improved version as a large easel painting.
Today, he has some choice words for the thieves: “By recapturing the imagery and improving upon it, I have wreaked my revenge,” Kane says, “leaving you with what is now no more than a preliminary sketch that was damaged by you and is of little value except as a curiosity.”
The original mural, created in 1973 for a small history center planned for Punaluu, depicted life in the area as it may have appeared 200 years ago. Kane had painted it on a semicircular wall that partially surrounded the viewer, with thatching above that hid lighting to create a natural, daylight appearance. Pebbles and sand at the bottom of the mural ran into real pebbles and sand.
Though his new painting contains the same content, Kane says it is much improved in terms of drawing and coloration. “It gave me the opportunity to improve upon what I had done 34 years ago,” he says. “It also gave me the last word.”
The new painting is in a private collection, but a limited edition of reproductions, printed on canvas, are available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.