Local artists help restore iconic Kaimuki mural after vandals target artwork

Local News

KAIMUKI, Hawaii (KHON2) – The iconic “empress” mural that decorated the former Gecko Books and Comics store home was recently vandalized.

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“We haven’t experienced a lot of graffiti in Kaimuki so I was a little sad to see that at first,” said Rep. Jackson Sayama, the State House Representative for District 20.

That was the reaction from many people in the Kaimuki neighborhood after the mural was defaced. The heartbreak was enough for a group of local artists to step in and help.

“When I saw that the mural had been vandalized and how many people were hurt by that vandalism, I couldn’t really let it stand,” said Jae Tracy, an artist with Painting Hawaii.

Painting Hawaii took on the restoration project three days ago.

The empress mural has been a fixture on the corner of 12th Avenue since 2000. Before it was Gecko Books and Comics, another business called the building home and commissioned the artwork.

“I haven’t stopped crying yet, because it’s so precious to me that so many people care about that mural,” said D.J. Colbert-Worley, the former Prosperity Corner owner. “I wanted dragons to protect our building and that’s how it all happened. I just wanted beauty and Kaimuki to me was that diamond that sat above Waikiki.”

The beauty and history of the empress mural will live on once again, thanks to the aloha and help from the community.

“The neighborhood has been so happy. I didn’t realize what an impact this was going to have when I originally took the project on. We just did it, because we didn’t want to see something in our neighborhood vandalized in that way,” said Tracy.

Painting Hawaii says the mural is receiving its finishing touches and should be finished in the coming days.

To learn more about Painting Hawaii, click here.

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