Ef­fec­tive mu­ral

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - COMMENTARY -

The mu­ral on the Agasa Fur­ni­ture build­ing pic­tured on the front page (Tri­bune-Her­ald, April 5) in­tro­duces sev­eral points of community in­ter­est wor­thy of dis­cus­sion. Among these are: censorship, pub­lic vs. pri­vate art, pri­vate prop­erty rights and cit­i­zens’ re­spon­si­bil­ity to lo­cal history, among other hefty is­sues.

Cen­sor­ing the im­age of a hula dancer car­ry­ing an AK-47 is shock­ing and fright­en­ing. It con­notes only one thing and that is the re­al­ity of the mon­ster world out there. So, the gun is cen­sored in a fash­ion that de­stroys the mu­ral but trans­forms it into a teach­ing de­vice for the community — should we choose to uti­lize it to our ad­van­tage.

Free­dom of ex­pres­sion saves a free peo­ple from tyranny, but ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity ne­ces­si­tates lim­i­ta­tions upon free­dom. And here we are.

As an artist and mu­ral painter in days past, I think the mu­ral, in very fine crafts­man­ship, tells a story that ought not be told to the community of Hilo, which I have come to love in my 45 years here.

The mu­ral faces Nawahi Street, named for Joseph K. Nawahi, one of the Hawai­ian king­dom’s most charis­matic, ed­u­cated and en­light­ened cit­i­zens of Queen Lili‘uokalani’s late in­de­pen­dent nation.

Nawahi was her rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Hawaii Is­land and one of the queen’s most trusted ad­vis­ers. He was a mod­ern man, a leg­is­la­tor and loy­al­ist. He and his wife, Emma, started the Aloha ‘Aina news­pa­per ded­i­cated to mak­ing Hawaii pono (right­eous).

The mu­ral with the gun is an af­front to Nawahi’s mem­ory and mean­ing. In re­al­ity, the en­tire cor­ner lot should be­come Nawahi Plaza — in honor of that great lo­cal cou­ple, their vi­sion and mis­sion.

Hilo is grow­ing up fast now, and we must pro­tect its proud history.

Do not de­stroy the mu­ral. Use it to teach us about life’s vi­cis­si­tudes. The artist has the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the story told; in this, it is a most ef­fec­tive mu­ral. Scary, but ef­fec­tive. To­mas Bel­sky Hilo

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