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.
“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.