2020 Marks 10 Years of Pow! Wow!, the Now-Global Street-Art Festival That Originated in Hawai‘i

HONOLULU photographer Aaron K. Yoshino used to work in the neighborhood and passed the murals every day. He began documenting the artwork and other aspects of the festival over the years. Here’s a look back at the history and his favorite moments.

2011

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Pow! Wow! creator and lead director Jasper Wong works on his piece for the first Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i. Now the event has grown so much that Wong rarely finds the time to paint during his own events. @mrjasperwong

 

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Before there was Lana Lane, there was Fresh Café on Queen Street, Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i’s old home base. Pow! Wow! co-lead director Kamea Hadar helps stretch a canvas for a live painting show in Fresh Cafe’s event space. @kameahadar

 

2013

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The Pow! Wow! School of Music makes its debut. The inaugural cohort performs at the closing party of the third Pow! Wow!, at Lana Lane. Behind the crowd, artists participate in a “secret walls” live art battle, where they simultaneously freestyle draw on the same shared wall. @powwowschoolofmusic

 

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The corner of Lana Lane. One of my favorite pieces from all the Pow! Wow!s. Australian artist Meggs painted the left; local artist Estria did the right, inspired by the Hawaiian goddess Haumea. Estria used the eldest daughter of another artist, Prime, as the reference for his piece. @houseofmeggs @estria

 

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Australian artists Meggs (left) and Phibs (right) work on their mural on Ahui Street. @houseofmeggs @phibs_has_instagram

 

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Pow! Wow! co-lead director Kamea Hadar takes a break from painting his now- iconic mural on Cooke and Pohukaina streets. Over the next few years, Hadar’s murals popped up all over the island, from Kapolei Commons to Pearl Harbor to Lunalilo Street. While the idea of Pow! Wow! is to paint over the previous murals each year, this one has remained. @kameahadar

 

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Christa Wittmier was an early and dedicated supporter of Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i. We all miss her.

 

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During the first few Pow! Wow!s in Hawai‘i, co-lead director Kamea Hadar hosted the artists at his family home in Pūpūkea. Kamea and his brothers would go hunt for pig, cook it in an imu, and host a big party for the artists, sponsors, friends and family. The mannequin was there for the artists to sign.

 

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Everyone unwinding at the Pow! Wow! closing party in Pūpūkea.

 

2014

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California artist Madsteez painting his Elvis tribute wall on an auto body shop at Kamani and Ilaniwai streets. We learned that spray paint sticks better to steel than to concrete bricks. @madsteez

 

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Six months after Pow! Wow! 2014, Jasper gave me a heads- up that the building painted by Honolulu- born O.G. Slick and NYC’s Persue was going to be torn down. It isn’t every day you see one of these pieces removed this way. @og_slick @persue1

 

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Nuns and their students on a Pow! Wow! art field trip, at the corner of Cooke and Auahi streets. I remember the nuns having a friendly conversation with one of the artists, Buff Monster, laughing with him, then moving on. I found it funny that a few weeks after this was taken, the piece had generated quite a bit of controversy because some in the community objected to the demonic character painted by Austrian artist Nychos. It was painted over soon after. @buffmonster @nychos

 

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The wall by Dabs Myla, an Australian husband-and-wife team, and Misery, New Zealand’s Tanja Jade McMillan, in progress on Auahi Street behind UFC Gym. Another of my favorites. @dabsmyla @miseryland

 

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The wrap party at Lana Lane is always fun. @lanalanestudios

 

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Bay Area-based artist Apexer working on his mural on Cooke Street. @apexer

 

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Artist Scien of the Montreal-based 123klan working on his mural on Pohukaina Street. @123klan

 

2015

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Artist Aaron Kai, from Hilo, working on his mural on Queen Street. @aaronkkai

 

2018

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Berlin- based American artist James Bullough and California’s Ricky Watts jump back in after the rain lets up. @james_bullough @rickywatts

 

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Hawai‘i-based artist Roxanne Ortiz works on her mural on Cooke Street. @woodenwave

 

SEE ALSO: Hawai‘i-Based Artist Makes It on NBC’s Reality Competition Show Making It

 

2019

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Hawai‘i artist Matthew Tapia, known for lettering (including a 2015 HONOLULU Magazine cover), painting the Howzit! mural at Lana Lane with his assistant, Cashew. @matthewtapia

 

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LA-based Shepard Fairey, known for Obey Clothing and the Barack Obama “Hope” poster, uses stencils and pastes posters to complete his mural at the bottom of Ward Avenue. @obeygiant

 

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Japan-based artist ONEQ working on her mural on Auahi Street. @negiyakisoba

 

Check out more of AARON K. YOSHINO’S WORK FOR HONOLULU MAGAZINE