Aero paints the town

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Muralist Caleb Aero stops to talk with a passer-by Friday at the mural developing on the walls of Pono Coffee & Bakery in Kapa‘a.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Ken Kubota of Pono Coffee & Bakery, right, comes out to talk about the Kuhio Highway street-front with muralist Caleb Aero Friday at the project taking shape on the walls of Pono Coffee & Bakery in Kapa‘a.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Muralist Caleb Aero sets canvas for the next phase of a mural Friday on the walls of Pono Coffee & Bakery in Kapa‘a.

KAPA‘A — Ken Kubota of Pono Coffee & Bakery wanted to know which business or who is operating the business next to Cindy’s Saimin in Kapa‘a.

“You remember Cindy’s Saimin?” asked Kubota, one of the members of the “Pono” ‘ohana of stores, including the neighboring Pono Market. “The mural is based on one of the photos I have, but who ran the business next door?”

Muralist Caleb Aero was wrapping up an afternoon’s work on the walls of Pono Coffee before moving on to Leong’s Meat House to start another mural.

“Remember when there was rodeo in Kapa‘a town?” Aero asked. “This one will go on Leong’s Meat House, and Prince Kuhio will be on the walls of the temple.”

The murals are being developed by the Old Kapa‘a Town Business Hui as a means to build “Old Kapa‘a Town” through community collaboration, and enhance the town to appeal to both visitors and residents, said Jasmine Kaohelauli‘i, the sister of Jeni Kaohelauli‘i, who heads the hui as its president and is the owner of Work It Out.

“We got a Rise to Work grant for this project,” said Aero, whose long history — at least 11 food trucks and 47 camouflage paint jobs on vehicles — of painting resulted in “Aero” because spray paint is his medium of choice. “We’re trying to bring people together through the history of the town. Most of the inspiration came from photos from Ken’s collection, many of which are on the inside of the coffee shop.”

Kamehana Lee, helping the hui with its marketing, said Kapa‘a’s streets are primarily named for flowers. As a result, the developing murals each depict one of the floral names of Kapa‘a town streets with an accompanying saga to complete the large panel.

“Old Kapa‘a Town is (Waika‘ea) canal to (Mo‘ikeha) canal,” said Maile Bloxom, the daughter of Vicky Masuoka of Vicky’s Fabrics on Kuhio Highway in downtown Kapa‘a and hui treasurer.

“There are about 25 active members in the hui, and Jeni is active in promoting the program. We want people to understand that we’re stronger together. Last year was very concerning because many of the businesses were at a crossroad. We want people to know that the more businesses succeed, it only helps everyone overall.”

Vicky’s Fabrics has rebounded from the pandemic to where Bloxom handles more than 40 classes each month, and a steady stream of customers through the shop.

“We keep working to make the town more attractive,” Bloxom said.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or

  1. Art June 28, 2021 6:50 am Reply

    Wonderful to see these murals poping up around Kapaa! Makes you ponder why the skate shop was forced to paint over their beautiful “KAPAA” mural on their wall behind Chicken in a Barrel when these murals are specifically designed with the intent of “marketing” and are greenlighted. Did the Kapaa business hui just realize the positive impact that art has?

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