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Second mural in ‘Mana Wahine’ collection to be unveiled in Wailuku

The Maui News

A new 72-foot mural that’s part of the Small Town Big Art initiative will be unveiled on Thursday as the temporary construction wall surrounding the future site of The Parlay, a new retro-style tavern by the team behind Esters Fair Prospect.

Maui artists Bailey Onaga and Courtney Chargin created the mural last summer over the course of two weeks on individual 4-foot-by-8-foot panels offsite at the Imua Discovery Garden, among the grounds where Maui’s last ruling Chief Kahekili once lived.

The work is entitled “Wailuku i ka malu he kuawa” (Wailuku in the shelter of the valley), which is also the proverb from Mary Kawena Pukui’s ” ‘Olelo No’eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings” that inspired the artwork. The piece depicts the Wailuku bridge that will now be seen in the distance when facing the mural, which will be installed at the northeast corner of Main Street and North Church Street in Wailuku.

“These words resonated so deeply with me and my artistic collaborator, Courtney Chargin,” Onaga said in a news release. “We are based in Wailuku, protected by Wailuku, and proud to find inspiration in this sacred place. I drive under and/or over the bridge every single day, inhaling and exhaling, finding the foundation in knowing that everything is going to be okay, somehow.”

Upon completion last year, the panels were earmarked to temporarily enclose the Wailuku municipal parking lot construction site as part of Small Town Big Art’s Mana Wahine collaboration that resulted in a collection of three murals. However, due to construction updates and new developments — most notably the future Halau of ‘Oiwi Art and Wailuku Arts District projects — the panels were stored until a specific install site could be secured.

The first Mana Wahine piece, “Ha’aha’a,” by Amanda Joy Bowers, was unveiled in June 2021. It was inspired by the ‘olelo no’eau: “E Noho iho I ke opu weuweu, mai ho’oki’eki’e” (Remain among the clumps of grasses and do not elevate yourself). Onaga and Chargin’s mural will be the second in the series.

The third mural, “Mohala I ka wai ka maka o ka pua” (Unfolded by the water are the faces of the flowers) by artist Alex Underwood, is expected to be installed during the holiday season at the end of this year.

For more information and to view a seven-minute documentary featuring the collection, visit smalltownbig.org/manawahine.

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