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West // West Oahu Coverstory
Nicole Kato

Artists Decorate Community Space

West Oahu youths have made strides to discourage vandalism in an area housing development, while creating beautiful masterpieces for the community to enjoy at the same time.

Pictured is some of the artwork that now appears in the La Hiki at Mehana neighborhood in Kapolei. Photos courtesy of Lee Tokuhara, D.R. Horton

La Hiki at Mehana development in Kapolei now has walls covered in artwork created by 808 Urban, a community arts organization formed from artists, organizers and other volunteers.

“We thought it was a good opportunity to beautify the shared community space that will eventually lead to a walking and biking path around the entire community,” noted Lee Tokuhara, director of community relations with D.R. Horton – Schuler Division.

The housing is part of D.R. Horton’s building project that includes single-family homes.

The artwork was created by commu- nity arts organization 808 Urban as a way to beautify the area while discouraging vandalism. Photos courtesy of Lee Tokuhara, D.R. Horton.

According to Tokuhara, the wall is located in the La Hiki neighborhood of the Mehana community, and the colors and imagery of the mural appropriately fit into the translation of Mehana, which means “warmth of the sun,” and La Hiki, which means “sunrise.”

“We have a certain process we go through when coming up with concepts for upcoming murals,” explained Jesse Velasquez, lead artist for the 808 Urban Waipahu Jr. Board. “First, we brain- storm a few main ideas like what the focus should be, what images we should paint, etc. In between all this, we are sketching constantly and making sure we do have other ideas in case some don’t work out.”

Members of the 808 Urban Waipahu Jr. Board include high school stu- dents, as well as those who recently graduated, and all artists work toward the goal of beautifying and empowering their community through art.

The La Hiki project took the young artists more than 70 hours to complete, from concept development to the finished mural, and Velasquez believes it was all worth it.

“Aerosol art helps the youths by giving them another outlet for doing their art and allowing them to take this passion and turn it into a career,” he said.

“Keeping the youths inspired and motivated to doing what they love and showing them that there is no limit to how far it can take them is the main goal.”

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