SuperCity: POW! WOW! hits the road

Aug. 21, 2013 | 1 Comment

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BY CHRISTA WITTMIER / Special to the Star-Advertiser

“Thank you for choosing to spend your Friday listening to us. You could have been anywhere tonight, but you are here.”

The lineup at PechaKucha Honolulu Nights (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

The lineup at “PechaKucha Honolulu Nights.” (Courtesy Christa Wittmier)

That’s what artist Richard Rayla told us at the 18th “PechaKucha” last week at the Honolulu Museum of Art. He had just presented his 20 slides in 20 seconds, sharing artwork that stretched from contemporary true abstract paintings to tongue-in-cheek ink drawings of large freighters in miniature.

The entire program was intriguing, to say the least, not only because it caters to my frustratingly short attention span but because there was so much to learn in such a short amount of time. From art to architecture to fashion to food security, I wasn’t bored, even for a minute. The event is timed so well, with a nice reception before and intermission during, plus drinks and food. There wasn’t anywhere else I wanted to be that evening.

I had gone to support Jasper Wong, Lead Director for POW! WOW! Hawaii, a colleague I haven’t been able to see much of lately since I’ve been working so much and he’s been traveling so much. While he is currently in Berlin for the Warsteiner Beer Art Collection unveiling, I will be representing our organization in Portland, Ore., for our first satellite event, “Forest for the Trees.”

While we have been able to significantly grow POW! WOW! Hawaii in terms of scale and reach over the last three years, it’s very humbling to see an individual taking the initiative to pull it together in another city. “Forest for the Trees” organizer Gage Hamilton is a well-connected Portland artist who partnered with Hellion Gallery owner Matt Wagner to bring the mural project together under the guidance of Wong and Kamea Hadar.

PechaKucha night at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (Courtesy of Christa Wittmier)

“PechaKucha” at the Honolulu Museum of Art. (Courtesy of Christa Wittmier)

This event will be reminiscent of the first POW! WOW! in Hong Kong, where a gallery is involved, but also keeping with the spirit of the event engaging the broader community in the process and creation of art.

There are nine mural locations throughout Portland and 17 artists working and living with local artists to share and celebrate their cultures. With six of the visiting artists POW! WOW! Hawaii veterans, including Hadar, there will be a fantastic union of experiences and the family will grow significantly. I’m so excited.

I remember bumping in to Aaron “Woes” Martin at last week’s “Iron DJ Challenge” at The Republik, where he told me there are more mural projects around the globe than ever before. Being involved from the beginning, I have heard so much feedback from so many different angles, but the one that I hear most is there is no other event like POW! WOW! Hawaii. What sets it apart is not only the focus on the process, but the feeling that it is one big family. The artists are not staying in Waikiki hotels; they stay together in one house, encouraging more dialogue and inspiration — which is reflected in the resulting artwork.

Murals in progress in Portland: Madsteez (LA), Gage Hamilton (PDX) and Zach Yarrington (PDX) (Courtesy Matt Wagner)

A mural in progress in Portland, Ore., by artists Madsteez (LA), Gage Hamilton (PDX) and Zach Yarrington (PDX). (Courtesy Matt Wagner)

Portland will be similar with local artists hosting the international artists. They have already begun painting and plan to end the week with a party at the White Owl Social Club.

It’s never easy for me to leave Hawaii. I’m usually homesick after a day or two. But this trip will be good for me. I’m excited to get back to the Pacific Northwest and even more excited to be doing it in support of a beautiful project like this.

Follow “Forest For The Trees” on Instagram or visit Hellion Gallery’s website for updates and photos.
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Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young’s Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular “Bacardi Pool Party” on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

  • Kevin S. Oshiro

    this is a great thing for the POW WOW Hawaii group – the global expansion; great to others who have not heard of this organization via “word of mouth” thru Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, My Space, Flickr and other social media outlets.