THE BLOG

25
Feb

The Metal Man

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Bill Reardon’s functional art helps build the neighborhood.

Text by Rebecca Pike | Image by Jonas Maon

It used to be you’d need to sledgehammer open a wall or inspect maritime seaming to see Bill Reardon’s handiwork. A former pipe- and ship-fitter, Reardon has seen his portfolio evolve over his 15 years of practice in ways that are pleasing and, perhaps, unexpected. It used to be he would do creative work in his spare time. Now, it’s most of his business.

A beloved member of the Our Kaka‘ako community, Reardon has been working with others in the area to enhance their businesses since he set up shop in Hawai‘i in 2009 under the name Heavy Metal Inc. He has contributed to the design and development of nearly every new business in the district. Like metal itself, his presence is distributed far and wide, even when it’s not obvious.

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In the Kaka‘ako Agora space, his railing work is prominent yet its impact is subtle—a perfect balance to achieve when creating functional art. When Paiko was redesigned last year, he made bespoke hanging fixtures as well as the glorious double-door handle that is an iron version of the shop’s iconic veined leaf logo. Geoff Seideman of Honolulu Beerworks (Reardon’s preferred pau hana perch) called on him to fabricate massive wheeled kegs to use in his brewing process, as well as to create furniture, custom piping, and bar hardware. Outside of the area, Reardon’s most recent project can be seen at Harry Winston in Waikīkī.

Creating functional art, says Reardon (though he does not bill himself as an artist), is “a lot nicer than piping. I can do it all sitting on a bench, and the pace is different. You get to work with all types of equipment, and each job still has its challenges.” One challenge that Reardon chooses to add to every job is to make it work with reclaimed materials. It’s not always possible, he says, but it’s always worth trying.

Heavy Metal Inc. is located at 725 Auahi St. For more information, visit heavymetalhawaii.com.

25
Feb

How To: Brew the Perfect Cup

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Brue Bar’s master barista knows his way around a cup of coffee. With these helpful tips, so can you.

Text by Carrie Shuler | Images by Jonas Maon

Delectable, drinkable offspring of the entrepreneurial print and design shop Honblue, Brue Bar opened its doors in 2013 in downtown Honolulu as a way to provide refreshments for architects, designers, and clients. As the business thrived, its owners began diversifying their offerings, from serving regular cups of joe to searching out single-origin beans. They opened their second location within botanical boutique Paiko in Our Kaka‘ako in late 2014.

Being the café versions of a print shop, both spaces are equipped, naturally, with the most beautiful and prestigious equipment, including a custom-made Slayer espresso machine and a Steampunk-looking hydraulic coffee press that functions like an elevator lowering coffee grounds to the lobby. Beyond its sophisticated paraphernalia, Brue Bar’s success comes from an emphasis on importing beans from exotic lands and offering regulars the chance to sip on new brews and personal favorites. No cup, regardless of how many times you’ve had the same blend, ever fails to bring a novel tone to that caffeinated nostalgia.

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Interested in crafting your own perfect cup of coffee? Follow these steps provided by Matt Aczon, Brue Bar’s master barista.

1. If your beans aren’t quality, forget about perfection. To check, open the bag of beans and stick your nose in it. A rich aroma is a sign that your coffee beans have not gone stale. Aczons’s favorite countries of origin are Guatemala and Ethiopia. “I’ve never had a bad cup of Guatemalan coffee,” he says.

2. Water quality and temperature matter, so make sure to have a thermometer on hand. The water used should have no discernible flavor. Heat water to 200 degrees fahrenheit. The perfect brew ratio: one part ground coffee to every sixteen parts water.

3. Grind beans to the size of a grain of sand. Grounds that are too thin lead to over-extraction and bitterness.

4. Utilize a French press or a pour-over method such as a Chemex coffee maker. Let the coffee seep through the filter for three and a half minutes. Keurig or Mr. Coffee makers will brew equally well, just make sure to use quality beans.

5. Maintain a Sunday morning state of mind. If you don’t feel good, then your coffee is not going to taste fantastic. The steps above comprise 90 percent of crafting the perfect cup of coffee. The remaining 10 percent is your frame of mind.

Visit Brue Bar’s second location, an extension of botanical boutique Paiko, at 675 Auahi St.

25
Feb

Breathe Easy

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Paiko refreshens Our Kaka‘ako with its botanical offerings.

Text by Kelli Gratz | Images by Jonas Maon

Inside Paiko, a botanical boutique in Our Kaka‘ako, I breathe easier. The veil of dust and noise from the surrounding construction lifts as I enter a mini oasis of exotic ferns, rare orchids, hearty succulents, and blooming philodendrons. The better-than-oxygen air is also due in part to the fresh coffee brewing at the adjoining cafe, Brue Bar. Two businessmen are discussing a project they’re working on when a young, freckled blonde greets me happily.

The woman is Courtney Monahan, partner and vice president of operations at Paiko, who moved to the islands when she was in seventh grade. “The number one question we get asked is, ‘How does this work?’” she says with a laugh, referencing the uber-popular DIY bar of plants and supplies. “It’s great because we want people to feel welcome, excited, and to ask questions. We want people to see things they’ve never seen before and choose to get creative with it.”

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Naturally, my eyes are drawn to the centerpiece of the shop: an assembly line of different vessels, pots, sands, mosses, and glass chips. It’s clear to me just how much this place is an extension of the owners, Tamara Rigney and Monahan, who have poured their hearts and souls into a fresh retail concept for plant lovers and purveyors alike. The name itself even conjures images of their love for nature, design, and Hawai‘i—Paiko is named after Rigney’s grandmother’s beach home, which served as Rigney’s office before the duo opened the Our Kaka‘ako storefront in 2012.

Since then, the shop has undergone a remodel, designed by Nikole Nelson, which was completed in December 2014, creating a stunning contemporary space. They updated the concrete floors, revamped the doors and windows, and added a front garden and a series of little touches: flashes of metal, vibrantly colored decor, and creamy walls full of everyday cheer. They even have a whole list of workshops slated for 2015 ranging from learning to create woodland terrariums and haku leis to mounting stag horn ferns, succulent gardens, and hanging kokedama (moss) balls.

But perhaps the most notable feature of Paiko is the calming, effective jumble of it all. We’re in the middle of noisy Honolulu, yet the collection of offerings both odd and uncommon puts you at ease. In their third year of business, Monahan and Rigney can finally breathe easier too, feeling rooted in their location. Says Monahan, “2015 is going to be about continually evolving our ideas and concepts, bringing back things that didn’t work in the past, or revisiting ideas that weren’t feasible because of our lack of outdoor space. One of the things Tamara and I discussed is bringing in more native plants. We feel it’s important to stay connected to the Native Hawaiian culture, and working with native plants is definitely one way to do that.”

Paiko is located at 675 Auahi St. For more information, visit paikohawaii.com.

22
Feb

Two by Two

 

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Kaka‘ako Pixel Wall – A .5ppi Project from Vincent Ricafort on Vimeo.

Honolulu Printmakers tell the history of Kaka‘ako one pixel at a time.

Text by James Charisma | Images by Jonas Maon

Working seven days a week out of a studio space above Paiko in Our Kaka‘ako, the printmakers of .5ppi create hundreds of 11-by-17 inch prints that are set out to dry on the empty room’s carpeted floors. On the weekends, the team installs these prints using wheat paste, a traditional printmaking adhesive. What they are working on is the organization’s largest project to date: a mural wrapping the entire wooden fence that blocks construction from view at the square block that once contained CompUSA, commissioned by developer Alexander & Baldwin for their residential project called The Collection at 600 Ala Moana Blvd. The size of this mural? Eight feet high and a staggering 1,500 feet long.

The project is overseen by Duncan Dempster, the executive director of Honolulu Printmakers, who made it his mission when he took on this role with the organization in May 2013 to promote printmaking in Honolulu and statewide in hopes of sustaining a creative local community. As a past board member of Honolulu Printmakers and a University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa instructor, Dempster was used to seeing artists graduate from school and either leave their disciplines for careers in other industries, or leave Hawai‘i entirely.

“I think it’s important to have a community where an artist could stay [employed in Hawai‘i] in a creative field for life,” Dempster says. “For there to be opportunities for people to volunteer and work in the arts.”IMG_8894

 

In early 2014, as part of the Honolulu Printmakers’ 86th Annual Exhibition at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, Dempster coordinated with former Kaimukī art gallery Ektopia to host a supplemental program involving the community. For this project, Dempster devised a system with students from his intermediate printmaking class at UH Mānoa that allowed anyone to get involved with the project: Instead of using traditional woodcut prints, which require extensive training in carving, handling equipment, and so forth, participants arranged woodblock squares with varying patterns (representing light gradients) into 11-by-17 inch grids to create an enlarged, pixelated mural using a still image from the 1967 French film The Young Girls of Rochefort. These wooden grids were rolled through the press and hung on the wall to dry, slowly forming the massive 10-by-20 foot image. The group—and the process—adopted the name “.5ppi,” referring to the 2-by-2 inch woodblocks they use, which measure up to half a pixel per inch (in terms of an image’s digital resolution) to make up the final image.

“The takeaway, though, is really the experience,” Dempster says. “People coming together to work on something bigger than themselves, and the social element of the project. The art is sort of a byproduct of the experience.”

In June 2014, Interisland Terminal helped bring .5ppi’s modular system to the walls of the Kaka‘ako Agora warehouse, this time to create a 20-by-40 foot temporary mural in just eight days. Five months later, Dempster’s team was tapped by Alexander & Baldwin for 600 Ala Moana Boulevard.

Honolulu Museum of Art educator and artist Justin Davies is developing the mural’s imagery, a photo collage timeline of Kaka‘ako from the 19th century to the present day, composed of images taken around the area and from various local historical archives. For the sections facing Ala Moana Boulevard, exposed to drivers flying by at high speeds, the figures and landscapes are quickly impressive—epic, sweeping scenes from the past. For the parts of the mural on Keawe Street that are exposed to more foot traffic, there are images of the present and future presented at eye level and with greater detail, inviting exploration.

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The process is ongoing. As of the writing of this article, .5ppi has completed three-quarters of the mural along Ala Moana Boulevard. They have prints ready to go for a few dozen feet further, and design approval for half a block beyond that. This stage-by-stage process will continue all the way around, until the mural is complete. It’s a long but rewarding process. “At the end of a day of wheat pasting, [when] you go across the street and see the entire fence and your progress, that’s my favorite part,” says printmaker David Randall.

The longer .5ppi works on the mural, the more things they encounter. Some are good things, like the drivers along Ala Moana Boulevard who spot the team working and shout words of encouragement. Others are not as good, like running into obstacles in the fence such as signs or warped wood, which affect the final image.

“When the entire project is finished, I think it’s going to challenge the viewer to pay attention to what’s happening here; make them work a little bit,” Dempster says. “Sort of have to slow down to experience everything. If you step back, you’ll see the bigger picture.”

To keep up with .5ppi’s progress, follow them on Instagram @pointfiveppi and pointfiveppi.tumblr.com. See more work by the Honolulu Printmakers at its upcoming 87th Annual Exhibition, on display from February 25-March 20 at the Honolulu Museum of Art School.

12
Feb

The Opera Comes to Kaka‘ako

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Hawaii Opera Theatre presents Siren Song, a modern opera, in Our Kaka‘ako.

Text by Jeff Mull | Collage by Noa Emberson

Over the course of the past few years, Kaka‘ako has become home to a myriad of eclectic events, hip cafés, foodie restaurants, and cocktail bars geared toward young creatives. From carefully poured espresso to whiskey confections and fixed-gear bikes, it’s clear that the trendsetters have taken over. So it wouldn’t be surprising if you raise an eyebrow when you hear the news that the opera is coming to Our Kaka‘ako.

Beginning in March, the Hawaii Opera Theatre, more commonly referred to as HOT, will be showcasing a series of performances of the contemporary opera Siren Song in a warehouse in the area. Unlike traditional operas, however, this opera is set in the modern era and features an oh-so-relevant storyline about a young British sailor “catfished” (duped, in Generation Millennial terminology) into a relationship with a model who’s, well, definitely not a model. And definitely not a woman.

“We’re excited to introduce a modern opera to Kaka‘ako and a new audience,” says Simon Crookall, executive director for HOT. “This isn’t your typical opera, and we felt that performing it in a nontraditional location like a warehouse in Kaka‘ako was a perfect fit. If you love music, theatre, and a great storyline all rolled into one very accessibly modern opera, then you’re going to love Siren Song.”

True to life, the plot of Siren Song is elaborate and rich, with plot twists that could only be pulled from true events. “When I first came across the true story, which inspired Siren Song, I knew it had to become an opera,” says Jonathon Dove, who wrote the opera. “What initially appears to be a simple story of a sailor duped by a con man turns out to have surprising depths. … It is a story about the power of the imagination, and how we invent the people we love.”

Since its first performance in 1994, Siren Song has received rave reviews from opera enthusiasts and critics. “If I was planning on introducing a beginner to opera, this is one I would choose,” wrote Rachel Connolly for Opera Now. “Siren Song is decidedly the most enjoyable contemporary opera I have seen for a very long time,” added Alexander Waughn in the London Evening Standard.

Sound like the kind of culture you can get behind? You can purchase tickets for Siren Song, along with tickets for the upcoming season, which includes The Flying Dutchman and Sweeney Todd, online now.

Siren Song takes place March 20–22 at 445 Cooke St. Showtimes are 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.; tickets $50–$75. For more information, visit hawaiiopera.org.

Rehearsals for all three HOT operas will be taking place in Our Kaka’ako from January through April. If you have heard the pleasant sounds of operatic overtures, just wait until you see the full production.

09
Feb

A Creative Hub

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Collaborative workspace Lana Lane Studios hums with activity and gears up for another Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i.

Text by James Charisma | Images courtesy of Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i Portrait image by Jonas Maon

Inside Lana Lane Studios in Our Kaka‘ako, construction materials and industrial equipment are everywhere. A bank of vintage motorcycles and old bike parts are assembled outside Minnow Motor Works, Anthony Vallejo-Sanderson’s moped and motorcycle refurbishment shop. Across the warehouse, massive carved wooden panels from the former CoXist Studio rest against the wall outside a recording studio where Pow! Wow! School of Music director Nicholas Kaleikini plays the piano.

On both floors, an assortment of private studio spaces line the perimeters, each customized with recycled or donated materials by their residents. Front facades range from painted sheet metal to crafted wood to clear plastic. In the back corners, the Lana Lane team works on building out a woodshop and kitchen space. Out front, an old shed is being converted into a juice bar.

It’s any given morning at Lana Lane Studios, Our Kaka‘ako’s neighborhood workspace for local creatives that hosts illustrators, painters, graffiti artists, graphic designers, photographers, videographers, and musicians. What once was an old warehouse storing concrete and car tires was renovated in 2012 by Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i directors Jasper Wong and Jeffrey Gress into a collaborative space where artists can rent studios at affordable rates. Current tenants include illustrators and muralists Matt and Roxanne Ortiz of Wooden Wave; indigo dyers Toku and Donna; fine art oil painter Hadley Nunes; PangeaSeed operations manager Kai‘ili Kaulukukui; and Gavin Murai’s design shop Reckon Crew.

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“The idea was that everyone would be able to interact, educate, and inspire each other with their different strengths and abilities,” says Lana Lane lead director and co-founder Jeffrey Gress. “And as a collaborative space, we can tackle multi-faceted projects using those skill sets, like painting, photography, graphic design, or video.” The quiet bustle around the warehouse will pick up in early February, when Lana Lane will double as the official headquarters for Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i, a weeklong annual festival featuring around 100 local and international artists who will gather on O‘ahu to create more than 60 murals simultaneously on buildings around the Kaka‘ako area. The festival will also host an assortment of panels and parties celebrating creativity in the neighborhood. Gress, who doubles as the operations manager for Pow! Wow! 2015, will oversee the massive assemblage of lifts, scaffolding, and paint necessary to make the festival a success, all of which will be stored at Lana Lane.

In fact, many of the tenants at the studios will also be participating in Pow! Wow! 2015. Videographers Mikey Inouye and Vincent Ricafort of Banzai Media are helping document; Gavin Murai of Reckon Shop are assisting with graphic design; MOK Crew, PangeaSeed, Matt and Roxanne Ortiz, and multimedia artist Ekundayo are creating murals. The Pow! Wow! School of Music, which runs throughout the festival, are hosting workshops and recording sessions in Lana Lane for local teens interested in honing their musical abilities, culminating with a performance for the Pow! Wow! finale at Honolulu Night Market on Saturday, February 14th.

“All the existing murals in Kaka‘ako from last year’s event will be replaced with new artwork,” Gress says. “Every event, we’re grateful to have great artists coming out to share their talents with us.” Since 2011, when the festival kicked off, Pow! Wow! has expanded its canvases from a few walls in Fresh Cafe’s loft warehouse to more than two dozen buildings in Kaka‘ako and the surrounding areas. And while some businesses and landowners getting mural-ed request their walls be painted with family-friendly content, most locations have been open and receptive to all works and the entire event.

“Appreciating artwork that’s outside a traditional gallery space—for Pow! Wow!, that’s really what it’s about,” says Gress. “Creating art in a public atmosphere, available for everyone and without pretenses.”

Lana Lane Studios is located at the corner of Lana Lane and Auahi Street. Keep up with the Lana Lane Studios tenants on Instagram @lanalanestudios. To see the full schedule of Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i events or for more information, visit powwowhawaii.com.