HONOLULU (KHON2) — ‘A‘ala Park right outside Chinatown received a series of murals that now adorn its facilities.
The City and County of Honolulu, The Trust for Public Land, Better Block Hawai‘i, Kamehameha Schools Mural Club and artist Sergio Garzón created a public/private collaboration to revamp this beautiful city park.
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The art project employed a community-led process that planned a reinvigoration program for the park as a means of celebrating the area’s rich history and cultural diversity.
“These murals are such an excellent way not to only beautify our public spaces but also to tell the park’s story and create a sense of pride and cohesion amongst the community. In summer 2021, the City committed to making a wide variety of improvements throughout Chinatown,” said Laura H. Thielen, Director of the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation.
The murals that were added most recently are at the park’s comfort station [bathroom building], basketball court, skate park, ‘ōpala storage, seating areas, planter boxes and sidewalks. KSMC in conjunction with Better Block Hawai‘i and with assistance from local artist Sergio Garzón created the mural concepts. This included input from the community as well as Miss Hawai‘i 2022 Lauren Teruya.
“Certainly, making our public gathering spaces more vibrant and inviting is part of that solution. I’m grateful to the brilliant Kamehameha Schools artists for their creative energy, Trust for Public Land for this donation and continued park activation, Sergio for his diligent work, and all of the helping hands who continue to give back to this historic neighborhood,” added Thielen.
The murals include mo‘olelo figures that relate to the surrounding community. ‘A‘ala is ʻōlelo Hawaiian for fragrant or sweet-smelling, and this culturally significant name influenced the direction of the art for this project.
According to City Officials, “the walls of the comfort station are embellished with the image of Lepeamoa, a girl from Native Hawaiian mythology who could turn into a beautiful chicken, with feathers the colors of every native Hawaiian bird. Surrounding the skate park are designs and graphics inspired by local skaters and the eclectic O‘ahu skating community, who represent the continued evolution of this sport from a counter-culture hobby to an Olympic sport. Dotting the sidewalks are various hop-scotch impressions, designed to encourage movement as park users and keiki stroll through the park.”
“Public parks play a critical role in improving mental and physical health outcomes and overall well-being,” said Sultan White, Parks for People Program Manager, Trust for Public Land. “We’re grateful to have tremendous partners invested in transforming ‘A‘ala Park into a safe and welcoming place for the entire community to enjoy.”
As part of a larger TPL initiative in Hawai’i, the Parks for People program seeks to connect people with the outdoors. TPL engages local communities to revamp their local city parks and use them as a way of maintaining a healthier community engagement life.
“Art is a form of healing. It’s as easy as that,” said artist Sergio Garzón. “I have a strong belief in the empowerment of communities through creative mentorships. These mentorships drive public art projects, leaving behind a sustainable imprint in the community that others can benefit from for years to come. Let’s support the beautification of our island through the benevolence of art and love.“
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‘A‘ala Park is the Department of Parks and Recreation’s oldest park. At 6.7 acres, it was opened in 1871.