Local Artists Make Kailua Come Alive!
Using locally produced art to was a key to giving Kailua Town a natural, windward ambiance. Residents and visitors can stroll down landscaped walkways and view murals, sculptures and a “living wall.” And they can listen to Island music by renowned Hawaii musicians at Kanikapila in Kailua concerts and at other town concert events. Local artists truly make Kailua come alive!
One of the most talked-about and admired pieces of art to be found in Kailua Town is the “Living Wall,” a veritable vertical garden on the side of Whole Foods Market featuring more than 1,350 Native Hawaiian and tropical plantings. It is the largest commercial exterior living wall in the state.
Two large ceramic mosaics were installed next to the “Living Wall,” itself an 11-by-18 foot vertical panel arranged with Native Hawaiian and tropical plants. The murals had an unlikely, yet creative beginning.
Kailua artist Bethany Brown asked her family, friends and just people hanging out at the landmark Kalapawai Market to describe Kailua in just one word. Words poured out: sparkling, rainbow, ocean-song, sun-speckled … each one capturing the essence of Kailua. She weaved the words into two acrylic paintings that she named “Seaside Living” and “Kailua State of Mind.”
Then, fellow artist Leah Rigg converted Brown’s paintings to 8-by-8-foot mosaic murals made up of thousands of colorful broken ceramic tiles. Once placed on the “Living Wall,” those murals became a favorite quiet focal point for visitors walking among the free-form garden and fountains.
According to Hawaiian legend, mo‘o are supernatural beings that resemble giant reptiles. Their power allows them to sometime take human form. Some mo‘o are evil or mischievous and others are caring guardians of the land where they live.
The striking lava rock sculpture erected by Hawaiian artists Kapalai‘ula de Silva and Alani Apio represents Kahalakea, a mo‘o spirit said to reside in Hamakua Marsh. Kahalakea’s friend, Hauwahine, is a spirit said to reside in Kawainui Marsh. (Over many years, people have reported seeing the mo‘o in the form of two women relaxing and bathing in the marshes.) They are considered by Hawaiians to be the sentries and guardians of Kailua.
The mo‘o sculpture of stones carefully placed in and around a water feature at the Kailua Road entrance to Whole Foods Market is to remind passersby of their relationship and kuleana, or responsibility, to the Earth and of their good fortune in having the spirit of Kahalakea keeping watch over Kailua Town.