10th anniversary POW! WOW! Hawaii
Here is finally the video montage of the Mural we painted for the 10th anniversary of Pow! Wow! Hawaii! in February 2020, just before this global lockdown.
Regarding this festival, I just prefer to quote Jeff Hamada's words who did it so well by prefacing the anniversary book that you can get by clicking here
« I feel lucky to have been part of the first POW! WOW! Hawai’i that Jasper Wong and Kamea Hadar organized in 2011. This was the second POW! WOW!, Jasper organized the first in Hong Kong the year before. The event was small enough that the invited artists and media could stay together in Kamea’s parent’s house on the North Shore, and everyone had a real bed. I only mention the beds because the event would quadruple in size over the next two years with upwards of 40 people staying on the property at one time—there would be a pillow and a blanket and someone sleeping on every inch of that floor. It was a far cry from the Waikiki hotels that have sponsored the event in recent years but it was also a big part of what made it special. Foodland for breakfast, Zippy’s for dinner. It was family style and it all came from a very earnest and naive desire to bring people together—not just to paint walls and go home, but to actually get to know each other, share stories, and form real friendships.
When I think about the first POW! WOW! Hawai’i, I think of Scien and Klor, the legendary French graffiti artists who founded 123Klan. They brought their two kids, Tom and Cleo, along on the trip, and I spent a lot of time with all four of them. The neat thing was they planned to collaborate on a mural together, as a family, for the very first time. Tom sketched a skull warrior and Cleo drew a Mr. Chocolate Bar guy (still one of my all-time fav characters). Scien helped Tom and Klor helped Cleo re-sketch their drawings on the wall. Just thinking about this kind of makes me a little bit emotional. It was a beautiful thing to watch. At one point I saw them all pose for a photo and all four of them threw up their middle fingers.
I remember Scien told me that the kids might miss a bit of school coming on a trip like this, but he and Klor felt it was a really important thing for them to experience—being surrounded by art and artists, and travelling. And they didn’t want to force them to be artists, if they decided they wanted to be lawyers, great, at least they’d get to see what this was like first.
I was 28, an adult (or at least the age of an adult), and the whole POW! WOW! experience was giving me a whole new perspective on what I wanted to spend my life doing. I tried to imagine what it would have been like to see it all at Tom and Cleo’s age. I don’t think they were even in high school yet. Two weeks surrounded by people from all different parts of the world, none of whom had “normal” jobs, all figuring out their own paths and creating ways to live doing what they loved. I’d been running Booooooom for three years at this point and I think this was the first time where I felt like there were a bunch of other people like me out there, making it up as they went. It was reassuring.
At some point during the trip, Tom and Cleo caught a lizard (I think it was a lizard) and it kind of became their pet. One afternoon we had a party at Jasper’s mom’s place and a lot of people came over to barbecue and hang out. The house and the yard were full of people having a great time, laughing and talking, and then someone noticed the kids were crying in the backyard. Scien ran out to see what was going on. I think Klor or someone said that the lizard had died. Scien hugged the kids and tried to comfort them, he was in full-on dad mode. And so in the middle of this big party, surrounded by all these happy people, the three of them walk to the far
end of the yard and they have this little funeral service for their pet. I think that’s when I felt like ‘I actually really know these people’.
This memory really stuck with me. Maybe it was because I’d been to lots of events where artists had big egos, and they were just too cool, and they didn’t want to really get to know anyone. This was the complete opposite of that. This was an honest moment and the kind of thing that only happens when people are being themselves. What I’m trying to say is when you look at all the photos in this book—a book celebrating the 10th anniversary of what is now a massive arts festival that has expanded across the United States, and brought art and artists to cities in Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Guam, The Netherlands, Korea, Italy—just remember, the spirit of POW! WOW! is a party where a guy can have a lizard funeral for his kids. »