From Hong Kong to Hawaii, Jasper Wong has been bringing art to the people.

“As Kakaako changes, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but right now all we want to do is cover that whole neighborhood with art and make it more colorful,” he told Civil Beat in a recent interview.

The 30-year-old artist created Pow Wow Hawaii, an organization of contemporary artists who have been painting murals on the walls in the Kakaako neighborhood with permission from Kamehameha Schools and the owners of the properties.

The endeavor hasn’t been without controversy though.

“There are a lot of people within the neighborhood that think we are destroying it through art but at the end of the day, all we are really doing is putting paint on walls,” Wong said. “Before, Kakaako was a place where you would go to just go to Fisher’s or Comp USA and if you got lost in there you were like ‘Holy hell, how do I get out of this hell hole?’ Nowadays, we see kids walking around, taking pictures, trying to find art.”

The Pow Wow idea came to Wong when he ran a gallery in Hong Kong, but had trouble bringing people through the doors.

“A lot of galleries or museums, they’re not as approachable,” he said. “There was some sort of barrier and by putting it out on public walls there was no way to avoid it. … So that’s what Pow Wow started, just trying to bring art to the people.”

Listen to Jasper’s story here:

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About the Author

  • Alana Hong
    Born and raised in Honolulu, Alana Hong has been scuba diving since age 5. She enjoys traveling, but always finds herself back in the islands she will forever call home. She currently works in Hawaii's film industry on various projects, most recently in the prop department on "Last Resort." On the weekends she can be found in the water with her camera and fins or brainstorming ideas with her creative friends.