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deOccupy Honolulu as Salon des Refusés

I've written tons of stuff about deOccupy Honolulu in my last year and a half of documenting them and supporting their cause. In preparation for tonight's Open Community Forum on Thomas Square hosted by Mayor Caldwell and Academy of Arts director Stephan Jost, I thought that instead of repeating or summarizing myself, I'd use pix and vidz and take a new approach.

For the longest time (around 500 days) the encampment was directly across the Academy of Arts. Whenever the Academy would host an evening "Art After Dark," deOccupy Honolulu would host an "Off Art After Dark," with it's own art and entertainment. Much of the deOccupy Honolulu artwork found exhibition at "Off Art." Of course, Off Art wasn't as well funded as the Academy's event, but that was kinda the point. Bourgeois on one side of Beretania and Bohemian on the other. Honolulu's own Salon des Refusés.

Sometimes, I think the term "Free Speech" is something of a misnomer. The sign of any vigorous political movement is usually the creation of art. And there was a lot of that from the very beginning.

[Anonymous artist okay with ephemeral chalk art. Week 2 of encampment.]

Not all artist were anonymous (or Anonymous). Renowned California muralist Raul Gonzalez of Mictlan Murals came to Thomas Square to paint a mural of Kānāwai Māmalahoe, the Law of the Splintered Paddle that Kamehameha I declared as the first law of Hawaii. Enshrined in the State Constitution it protects the humble lying by the roadside from abuse by the powerful.

Ironically, the mural – slated to be the centerpiece for the scheduled May 1 celebration was targeted for seizure by the City the very next day. The creation and recovery of the mural is a story in itself and if anyone is interested there is a 30 minute documentary about this (compiled mostly from my livestream video) here.

deOccupy Honolulu held five events countering the Academy's "Art After Dark" evening events:
[Poster for the 10/26/2012 Off Art After Dark]

The events featured artwork and music. Free expression, free admission.

Of course, from time to time, these events would attract the attention of the authorities who claimed that neighbors were complaining that they could no longer hear the sound of emergency sirens and traffic...

[When the live music serves as appropriate soundtrack to the livestream -- magic! From the September 30, 2012, Off Art After Dark.

The most traditional political event in the park is the observance of La Hoʻihoʻi Ea, the restoration of sovereignty to the Hawaiian nation on July 31, 1843. deOccupy Honolulu's solidarity with this and with people in occupied lands everywhere led to the creation of a solidarity piece during an Off Art 2 days before the 2012 La Hoʻihoʻi Ea. deOccupy peeps also helped set up tents, and ran the tent where a video of the 1986 revival of La Hoʻihoʻi Ea was shown continuously.

[Note use of "E mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono" rather than "Ua mau ke ea..."]

The larger art installations perplexed the City "art collectors" only momentarily. In western context, art is an esthetics based commodity with an exchange value in excess of its utility value. These works were deemed without sufficient exchange value to qualify as "art":

Most disturbing to me were midnight raids that would confiscate art. This 3am raid trashes several works of art that would never be recovered (because they were destroyed). The seizure of a #STanigawa painting can be seen at 6 minutes in:

A large number of #STanigawa's were created at the encampment. Here is a collection of sets of some of the works. 

Some works did survive:

"Free The Land" was sold and is now in a private collection

Artist Terry Anderson shows 
La Hoʻihoʻi Ea by the American flag burning off to leave the underlying Hawaiian flag. This painting survived many raids before finally being seized by armed force of the "civil" authorities:

The movement and encampment has inspired much art, design, and music.
[Does it take an "outlaw" artist to design a sign that looks like the place it's about? Art by Michael Daly]

And finally (for now), those planters have not escaped the attention of artists...
[Art by Mettaben]

More pix and vids and links to be added to this article. But for now, I have to run so check back later. And I hope to see you at the Forum for Thomas Square at the Doris Duke Theater at the Academy of Arts.

13 May 2013
H. Doug Matsuoka
Makiki, Honolulu


  1. Great article, Doug. We always look forward to your blog updates. Add some of the fancy limericks from our masked ally!

  2. Keep up the good work Doug, your videos have Inspired everyone to speak out.


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