New art in town: Donkey Mill led mural now stands in Kailua Village

  • A closeup of the new “Aloha Aina” mural at the intersection of Kuakini Highway and Palani Road. (Elizabeth Pitts/West Hawaii Today)

  • Ira Stivers spray paints the new “Aloha Aina” mural at the intersection of Kuakini Highway and Palani Road. (Photos by Elizabeth Pitts/West Hawaii Today)

  • Gerald Lucena paints the new “Aloha Aina” mural at the intersection of Kuakini Highway and Palani Road.

  • Ira Stivers spray paints the new "Aloha Aina" mural on Wednesday. (Elizabeth Pitts/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Four local artists have been working diligently this week to replace an old mural in the center of Kailua-Kona and bring a new work of art to life.

Miho Morinoue, Gerald Lucena, Eugene Menor, and Ira Stivers have been working together since Friday to paint their new piece, titled “Aloha Aina,” at the intersection of Palani Road and Kuakini Highway.

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In a colorful burst of paint, the words etched across the mural reflect its title of “Aloha Aina” — meaning “love of the land.” The mountains, flora and fauna on the cement canvass reflect the artists’ views of the spirit of Hawaii Island.

“The premise is: from mauka to makai,” Lucena said. “It’s kind of more of an abstract piece of art. You see the outline of Hualalai, the mountain, in the center, and abstract ideas of the land throughout.”

The mural replaces one created in 2006, and both murals were created in sponsorship with the Donkey Mill Art Center. The previous one was also painted by Lucena, with the help of a group of then-keiki as part of the Youth Mural Project.

“You can see some of the old wall where it is still chipped on the ground,” Stivers said. “They had to scrape a lot of it off, but it’s still there.”

Despite his fond memories of the previous mural, Lucena felt a fresh coat of paint was needed for the wall along the busy downtown crossroads.

“It was peeling off and there wasn’t a lot of care taken to keep it fresh, so I think it was time,” Lucena said. “This is kind of like the second chapter for me.”

Menor and Stivers have worked together on several mural projects around Kailua-Kona, including the pueo mural found on Luhia Street. The two have been using spray paint to create “Aloha Aina,” and Morinoue and Lucena have followed using traditional paint.

“They make us look good,” Stivers joked of Morinoue and Lucena’s contributions to the mural.

Painting was completed Wednesday, and only an application of a clear coating to protect the finished product is left for the artists to apply.

Lucena and Stivers said the reception the artists have received while working on the wall this week has been nothing but positive from drivers and pedestrians passing through town.

In 2012, a mural was painted by graffiti artist David Choe on a wall opposite of the “Aloha Aina” mural. But it was painted over after about three days after numerous complaints from people in the community. Local artist Dennis Westerlund then painted a mostly black and white mural in its place, which still stands today.

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Because of its central location in town, the artists said Donkey Mill Art Center was careful to create a mural that could be loved by everyone.

“They got the idea and then they asked the different kumus around the island what was proper and what would be a good theme for the mural,” Menor said.

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