The NirManaFest 2020 mural project came to a quiet close Saturday with the sun sinking below the German Hill plateau as the team of 15 artists trooped supplies to Seth Womble’s truck.
Due to COVID-19 safety measures, there were no post-event festivities as originally planned when NirManaFest was announced January ahead of the pandemic’s arrival.
Instead, a quiet celebration was held, with lei presentations to Womble, the event coordinator, and congratulatory hugs all around.
“NirManaFest has been nothing short of a perfect example of our community’s capability and resilience,” Womble said. “With your encouragement, the right people saying ‘yes’ and a supportive county, these incredible resident artists were able to bring some beautiful color to a very challenging year.”
During the NirManaFest 2020 that launched in the darkness of a Sunday night, five teams of Kaua‘i artists collaborated on creating five different murals along Rice Street in Lihu‘e.
The Pi‘ikoi Building, attached to the Lihu‘e Civic Center and housing the former Lihu‘e Big Save Market, became the centerpiece of the project comprised of three panels worked on by three teams, including artists Trysen Kaneshige, Nick Arnold, Lucas Murillo, Kaplan Bunch, Dave Flores, Melinda Morey, Caitlin Fregosi and Shianne Schorr Inman.
Two other murals sprouted on WB’s Grill when the team of Bethany Coma, Kayti Lathrop and Natacha Palay left their depiction of the Chinese zodiac, with a dragon wrapping itself around the building.
Adjacent to the zodiac-themed creation, the team of Holly Ka‘iakapu, Erin Aricayos and Shastin Grace drew vibrant flora and skies in a “Live Aloha” piece that envelopes an apartment building.
The work on “Trust Your Journey” ended with the last strokes of paint being applied Saturday, and marked the start of a new journey where the transformation, the key word defining Nirmana, can be enjoyed by everyone.
Funding for the week-long project came in part through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to the Hawai‘i Arts Alliance, and bolstered through the Rice Street Business Association fund-raising efforts that included donations and sponsorship.
An additional private contribution from Amy L. Roth, Ph.D., and the Swan Foundation helped fuel the project, where the original field of interested artists was whittled down to the 15 inaugural participants.
“I will never forget 2020, as I hope these murals can help represent a year that marks the beginning of a bright new future of community collaboration and celebration for Kaua‘i,” Womble said.