12 Questions: Jasper Wong of POW! WOW! Hawaii

By - Monday, February 24th, 2014

The 2014 edition of Pow Wow Hawaii recently came to an end after another successful year in paradise. The festival, founded several years ago by artist, Jasper Wong, unifies art, music, community and education through inviting international talents and like minds to beautify the streets of Honolulu.

What inspired POW! WOW!?
I was living in a creative wasteland and was desperate for company and an outlet. My Hong Kong gallery, Above Second, and the first POW! WOW! was born from these desires. I brought out a select group of friends and we painted from dusk to dawn. Five years later, POW! WOW! has grown into a completely different kind of animal. It now encompasses over 100 artists and 60 murals.

POW! WOW! meaning?
The name came from comic books. POW! being the impact that art has on a person. A punch to the face. While WOW! is the reaction to the art. Together it’s a term that describes a gathering to celebrate culture, music and art. It felt perfect!

How has preparing for this year differed from previous years?
It was tougher this year. We had more artists and walls. Plus, there was an event for every day of the week. There were a lot of logistics to consider. It definitely took an army to organize.

What was the overlap between the art and music outreach programs with this years festival?
Education is a key component to POW! WOW! The future is in our youth. We have created two free schools that go year round and the curriculum ends during POW! WOW! week. The art students create their own murals and shadow artists. While the music students have to compose and write their own songs that they have to play live during our block party finale.

Some of the highlights from this year? Any unexpected collaborations or moments?
Too many highlights to list. With about 120 artists involved, there were a lot of moments that were memorable. The Gaia, Prime and Solomon Enos was particularly special due to the culture exchange. I was also fond of some of the collaborative MSK murals.

Choosing the artists, whats that process like?
A lot of them are friends. That aspect hasn’t changed since the beginning of POW! WOW! It is about bringing friends together.

How responsive has the community in Honolulu been to Pow Wow and its efforts?
It has been very positive. We have given the walls a voice and helped to activate the neighborhood. The area is filled year round with people photographing and touring the murals.

The future of POW! WOW!? Any other projects in the works?
We have already started planning 2015’s festival and we’re looking to implement some very exciting projects. We are also expanding globally to Taiwan, Israel, Washington DC, Alaska, etc…

Graffiti in Hawaii is…
Progressive and unified.

Any local writers that have been inspirational to you?
There are tons, but standouts include Katch and Prime.

How did you choose some of the writers you had out there this year?
I’ve been a fan of many of them for years. It was exciting to have the Seventh Letter involved this year as well.

Can you reveal anything about next year in paradise?
One thing is for sure, it’s going to bigger and better.

Photography: Mark Kushimi Pow Wow Hawaii

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