On Thursday, August 11, 2022, a 72-foot SMALL TOWN * BIG ART (ST*BA) mural dedicated to Wailuku’s distinctive sense of place, history and culture will be unveiled as the temporary construction wall surrounding the future site of The Parlay, a new retro-style tavern by the team behind Esters Fair Prospect.
Created in the summer of 2021 over the course of two weeks, Maui artists Bailey Onaga and Courtney Chargin painted the mural on individual 4x8 panels offsite at the Imua Discovery Garden; among the grounds where Maui's last ruling Chief Kahekili once lived.
Entitled Wailuku i ka malu he kuawa (Wailuku in the shelter of the valley), which is also the proverb from Mary Kawena Pukui’s ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings that inspired the artwork, the piece depicts the Wailuku bridge that will now be seen in the distance when facing the mural, which will be installed at the northeast corner of Main Street and North Church Street in Wailuku.
"These words resonated so deeply with me and my artistic collaborator, Courtney Chargin," shares Onaga, "We are based in Wailuku, protected by Wailuku, and proud to find inspiration in this sacred place. I drive under and/or over the bridge every single day, inhaling and exhaling, finding the foundation in knowing that everything is going to be okay, somehow. I think about waking up early before field trips to go to Takamiya Market to grab bentos…I think about all the local makers who fill Paradise Now with aloha…the resilience and deep love for the small businesses like Request and countless others…artists like David Sandell and Philip Sabado who I looked up to since I was a little girl…born on Maui, raised in Waiehu, educated in Waihe’e, rooted in Wailuku."
Upon completion last year, the panels were earmarked to temporarily enclose the Wailuku municipal parking lot construction site as part of ST*BA's Mana Wahine collaboration that resulted in a collection of three murals. However, due to construction updates and exciting, new Wailuku developments -- most notably the the Hālau of ʻŌiwi Art and Wailuku Arts District projects -- the panels were stored until a specific install site could be secured.
"In June 2021, we were able to formally unveil one of the three Mana Wahine pieces: Haʻahaʻa by Amanda Joy Bowers, which was inspired by ʻōlelo noʻeau: E Noho iho I ke ōpū weuweu, mai ho’oki’eki’e (Remain among the clumps of grasses and do not elevate yourself)," shares ST*BA's Kelly McHugh-White, who has since founded the new nonprofit Maui Public Art Corps to expand this work to new neighborhoods, "On August 11, we will unveil the second in this series: Wailuku i ka malu he kuawa (Wailuku in the shelter of the valley), by Bailey and Courtney, and we are beyond excited that their moment has finally come to share this dazzling work with Wailuku."
The third mural – Mōhala I ka wai ka maka o ka pua (Unfolded by the water are the faces of the flowers) by artist Alex Underwood, is expected to be installed during the holiday season at the end of this year. A 7-minute documentary featuring the Mana Wahine collection may be viewed at the project page: smalltownbig.org/manawahine.
As a Mana Wahine collaboration, the team spent several months working with community consultants, construction teams, County partners, Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House Museum/ Maui Historical Society supporters and others to create the artistic compositions and select ‘ōlelo from Mary Kawena Pukui's ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings to firmly root each piece in its ultimate sense of place. Among those consulted were Maui Nui Botanical Gardens Executive Director Tamara Sherrill and Board Member Robert Hobdy; Hawaiʻi Land Trust Chief Conservation Officer Scott Fisher, Ph.D.; Father Robert "Moki" Hino, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church; Artist Phil Sabado; Imua Discovery Garden's Dean Wong; and most recently Suzanne Navarro of Esters Fair Prospect and the new retro-style tavern The Parlay.
“Being a female business owner in Wailuku, I am honored to display a mural fronting our new restaurant - The Parlay - that was created by two locale female artists, Bailey and Courtney," shares Navarro, "It's so important to me as a member of this community to nourish the artists who live here and make Wailuku so special and different. This mural reminds me of how sacred Wailuku is and what an important part this town plays in Maui's history. Thanks so much to SMALL TOWN * BIG ART for all they have done for Wailuku!”
The public is encouraged to attend the mural blessing and unveiling on Thursday, August 11 at 4:30 PM, which will be led by Uncle Bill Garcia. Attendees will convene on the corner of Main & Church about 15 minutes prior to the blessing, which will be followed by brief remarks by ST*BA partner Sissy Lake-Farm of Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House / Maui Historical Society as well as by each artist. Each of the Community Consultants will be offered an opportunity to share any manaʻo regarding their May-June 2021 experience talking story with the artists; which is a vital piece of each ST*BA project that helps us firmly root the artwork in a Wailuku sense of place.
Interested in submitting a public art proposal for consideration? The next ST*BA/ Maui Public Art Corps deadline is August 15, 2022 -- and the team is encouraging artists of all disciplines, (dance, poetry, music, theater, painting, sculpture, light work, and more) to apply. Details are at smalltownbig.org/rfp.