KAPAA — Ruben Rodriguez had one mission Friday — to get Wyland to sign a copy of his book that depicts the artist’s work.
“Seeing the artist who is featured in this book, it’s once in a lifetime. It can’t be replicated,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez, who lives in Kapaa, owns a book that shows Wyland’s original whale murals at the Kauai Village Shopping Center.
One of the murals, “Humpbacks off the Pali Coast,” faces Kuhio highway. The other “A Time for Conservation,” is on the clock tower. Both were painted in 1991.
On Friday, about 50 people flocked to the Kauai Village Shopping Center for the unveiling of the murals after Wyland, an internationally renowned artist, refurbished both walls.
Excited people started arriving early under the afternoon sun to make sure they got a good seat.
“It feels special to have a beautiful wall,” said Phil Worwa. “It’s fortunate that he brings his talents to Kauai.”
The Kalaheo man said the walls serve as a way to promote ocean conservation.
“It does a lot for the education of the humpback whale,”Worwa said.
“Humpbacks off the Pali Coast” was redone in January. Wyland completed “A Time for Conservation” in nine hours Thursday.
“Man, was it hot,” he said. “It really painted itself, and with nature, sometimes less is more.”
He said community support kept him going.
“People came out, and went ‘rah, rah,’ and cheered me on,” he said. “It gave me a lot of feelings about the last time I came here. It was very similar.”
On the clock tower, a massive humpback whale is depicted jumping out of the water, off the Napali Coast. It is painted in hues of blue, gray and green, and the attention to detail is such that it looks like the spray from the whale’s splash is jumping off the wall.
Barbara Levin drove from Princeville for the celebration and said she appreciates that Wyland did not shy away from the size.
“I love that he does these big whales, and not something small,” she said. “It gives people an idea of how awesome these creatures are.”
Levin, who used to work for Greenpeace, specifically with whale conservation, said the Whaling Walls play an important role in whale conservation.
“This helps raise awareness,” she said. “People on Kauai are pretty conscious about water and land resources.”
In the 1980s, Wyland started painting lifesize whales on the sides of buildings. The goal was to paint 100 Whaling Walls to promote ocean conservation.
The Whaling Walls draw visitors worldwide. It is one of the largest art in public places projects ever completed, spanning five continents, 17 countries and 79 cities around the globe.
“My work is about art, conservation and community. That’s what we have here,” Wyland said. “If we don’t have a healthy planet, we don’t have anything. I knew from the beginning that art could play a role.”