Remember Where You Came From
Estria, WaterWrites / Oh, Estria. He’s only got half a million followers on Twitter. He was only at the forefront of the “Golden Age” of graffiti in the 1980s. He’s only from Hawaii. He’s been home for the past few weeks working on one of ten Water Writes murals for his Estria Foundation, and last week I tracked down the address of the Kalihi wall on the Honolulu Community College campus to visit them while painting. He was sitting on a curb about 50 feet from the large mural with fellow local artist John Prime Hina, a beautiful, colossal portrait of Queen Liliuokalani staring back at them. There weren’t too many people there when we stopped by, maybe three or four of the 12 artists that are contributing to the wall, but they were all looking at the Queen. “Her eyes follow you,” said muralist, jiu jitsu athlete, cyclist, surfer and musician Kawika Samson, a.k.a. CKaweeks. The artists seemed deep in concentration sitting there staring at the wall so we walked back about 50 yards in the empty Honolulu Community College lot to leave them alone and try to take it all in at once. The colors and shapes on the last monarch’s dress were popping out at us with amazing detail. “We’ve been seeing butterflies flying around the site over the past few days we’ve been painting her,” said Estria. The Queen must approve. Watching the process of this large mural being developed has been a soothing break from a crazy week at my day job and I sat there watching internationally renowned Natural Koncepts founder Katch One breezing through the upper right quadrant of the wall, easily and quickly shifting a construction-grade personnel lift as he swept his can across the mural. Breezing is actually understatement. Dude was flying. I’ve never seen anyone paint that fast. It reminded me of the time when David Choe painted at Nextdoor for a RVCA event like five years ago. He started with this abstract sort of circle thing that he was blankly staring at for at least a half hour. Just adding lines here and there, never really making any real shapes or forms. Maybe it was an hour, actually. It seemed like forever. I remember because there was a bunch of us standing there watching him, fanning out, and eventually wondering if this was a joke. Then all of a sudden he grabbed a black paint can and wzzzzzzh! A full face appeared pretty much instantly, nothing like the weird lines and circles he was messing around with earlier. It was a complete painting in seriously like thirty seconds, with the Picasso-ish dirty style so characteristic of a Choe painting. It had the people who were watching completely mesmerized. That’s pretty much how it was watching Katch. Only instead of dirty and raw it was picturesque and beautiful. You have to see this wall. The image of the Queen alone is so powerful, but it is definitely the largest mural of this sort that’s ever been painted in Hawaii. Students will be amazed when they return to school to find this once large white building in the sky has now been cultivated with a vision of what Hawaii would be like if it practices more sustainable methods to conserve water. The unveiling event will be a nice gathering of like-minded people, food vendors, and entertainment as well as an opportunity to mingle with the artists and even speak with Estria and Prime, which I highly recommend. They have many stories about things that went on while they were painting that wall, and even though the end result is so impressive and magnificent, it’s the process that really makes it what it is.