Palama mural deemed accidental advertising


POSTED: Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The wine-promoting “;Look Me in the Eye”; mural at Palama Settlement featured in this space Sunday was to be “;removed”; by the end of yesterday.

That from Bob Loy, director of environmental programs for the Outdoor Circle, after his conversation with the city Department of Planning and Permitting. It enforces sign and other ordinances.

The Outdoor Circle, among other things, makes sure Hawaii's billboard ban stands.

The group received a complaint about the advertisement visible from the H-1 last week and forwarded it to the department, as it does with dozens of complaints each week.

“;We understand they have limited resources and it sometimes takes them a while,”; but this one got immediate attention, Loy said.

The artwork was rendered by youths served by 808 Urban, a nonprofit partner of Palama Settlement that tries “;to get (kids) to use a spray can in a positive way,”; said founder John Hina.

“;I apologize. It wasn't intended to be like that; we just thought it was a cool picture,”; and didn't realize it was promoting wine.

Neither did Jan Harada, executive director of Palama Settlement, which “;would not only not want to be advertising any product ... but in particular, would not want to be advertising any alcoholic beverage,”; she said.

“;We will be asking 808 Urban to take it down,”; she said, but defended Hina and 808 Urban.

“;He's done quite a bit of good,”; she said.

Not everybody's into sports. “;What they do is use the boards as teaching tools and for guest artists.”;

“;It was an experiment the first few months,”; and officials wondered whether “;we are going to see increased tagging”; around the complex. “;We have not,”; she said.

808 Urban is working to show taggers “;that if you do have a talent, there's a way to channel it and turn it into something to use as a vocation,”; Harada said.

One of Hina's proteges has a T-shirt printing shop in Halawa “;and is running it as a full-time business. That's one of my proud moments as a mentor,”; he said.

“;I've got a digital guy that's unreal with Photoshop. He's the best graphic artist that we have on the underground scene.”;

There is a big difference between hip-hop graffiti art, gang art and plain old spray-painted vandalism, Hina said. He understands that not everybody gets that.

One difference, however, is that gang taggers and vandals generally will not tag over an artistic mural. A mural of Israel Kamakawiwoole and Don Ho has stood unsullied for three years, he noted.

Better known as “;Prime”; during his tagging days, Hina is now a mortgage broker with a nonprofit passion.

808 Urban has received a grant and some seed money for various educational programs at Palama Settlement and at Mayor Wright Housing where Hina grew up, but he and other volunteers usually wind up paying for supplies.

It is a new nonprofit and can accept donations via Community Links Hawaii's 501(C)3 status.

808 Urban's spray-paint artists will be performing along with spoken-word artists from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday as part of the Rediscover Makiki event.


Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).