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As an area not far from the airport and Aloha Tower, Kakaako is oftentimes one of the first places visitors see when arriving in the islands. The drab industrial warehouses and banal buildings weren’t necessarily the best for first impressions. In fact, many would call this the grungier side of Oahu.
But thanks to a beautification effort by the community, the Kakaako district has steadily become a living gallery of urban art. The once blank concrete canvases of grays and beiges are now covered with colors that best fit the island’s persona.
But it’s more than just color; the artwork is impressive. I took a drive through Kakaako recently and couldn’t believe how much the area had transformed. A unique interpretation of the sun setting over the city caught my eye. I pulled over to take a picture. Just across the street, monkeys surfed along the wall and an abstract mural of colorful shapes danced to the rhythm of each passing car. It reminded me of San Francisco – where seeing urban murals is a must for tourists.
Every year since 2011, an annual event brings together creative and artistic minds from around the community. With buckets and cans of paint, the volunteer artists spend days bringing the area to life with art. Their efforts are a prime example of how graffiti can be a positive addition to any community.