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Wyland’s 100th Whaling Wall Celebrates Green Olympics
With exactly 100 monumental marine murals in 80 cities and 15 countries across the world to his credit, the artist known as Wyland can be considered a global citizen. And, yet, we in Hawaii consider him one of ours, as we regularly drive and walk past his eight life-size murals gracing the sides of, and in some cases, wrapping around multi-storied buildings across our islands. Even Wyland considers Hawaii his “first home,” as he puts it.
This week, wearing a ball cap that sports his trademark whale tail—of course—logo, Wyland made an impromptu public appearance at his namesake hotel, The Wyland Waikiki, for two reasons: One, to announce the completion of his 27-year-long “Whaling Wall” project, and, two, to paint an original work of art and donate it to the Special Olympics Hawaii.
The first effort took 27 years to complete; the second took just a few minutes.
Wyland painted his first wall in Laguna Beach, California, in 1981. It featured a gray whale and calf. He painted his sixth in Hawaii at the Pacifica Airport Center in 1985. It featured numerous humpback whales. Since then, he has painted seven more murals in Hawaii, on Oahu, Maui and Kauai.
Wyland’s murals typically showcase endangered and threatened marine life, including a variety of species of whales, seals, dolphins, porpoises, turtles and sharks. His “Planet Ocean” which wraps around the Long Beach Convention Center in southern California, ranks, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, as the largest mural in the world—at 1,280 feet long and 105 feet high.
“Our goal with these projects over the last three decades has been to convey the urgency of conservation issues to the public,” Wyland said. “The health of our oceans and waterways are in jeopardy, not to mention the thousands of marine animals and plants that face extinction if we do nothing.”
Wyland uses art to communicate his environmental message and inspire conservation. That’s why he was a natural choice for the “green” Olympics opening today in Beijing, China.
It just so happens the Beijing assignment came in as number 100—Wyland’s final whaling wall project—and it required the help of 2,000 children from around the world.
“I call it ‘Hands across the Oceans,’” said Wyland. “The idea was to represent through aquatic art all the water on the plant and to invite kids from all 205 Olympic countries to join me in painting these giant monumental canvases. Over a two-week period, we painted over 54 giant canvases, and we put them all around this beautiful lake in this park in central Beijing and all the kids joined hands.”
The new “Great Wall of China” spans two miles and winds around Chaoyang Park. During the two-week intensive effort, Wyland spent his mornings painting alongside children from seven countries and his afternoons painting with another group of children from seven different countries.
As Wyland spoke in the lobby of the Wyland Waikiki, he painted. He didn’t use an easel or any special setup. He sat on the sofa with the canvas laying on the coffee table in front of him. And, first, one dolphin emerged. Then, a second. And, finally, a third.
“It was very courageous of them to call it the Green Olympics because now they have to live up to it,” said Wyland. “By planting the seeds of conservation in the minds of children in China, there’s where you’re going to have the biggest impact, because at the end of the day, they are the generation that is gong to be proactive to save China—the air, the land, the water.”
Wyland’s “Whaling Wall” project is the largest and longest ongoing arts in public places program dedicated to environmental awareness. The murals have set world records for the largest paintings by one person and are seen by an estimated one billion people each year.
“Water connects all the people and all the countries of the world, and we need to protect it all,” said Wyland.
When Wyland finished speaking, his poster-size painting of three dolphins lay on the table in front of him, its brushwork style reminiscent of the work showcased around the hotel’s lobby and guest rooms. He donated it to the Special Olympics Hawaii, which will auction it as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization.
There is no doubt Wyland chose to paint the three dolphins in order to showcase his next public art project: 100 life-size marine sculptures. He dedicated his first, called “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” on July 22 at the Beijing International Sculpture Park. It features three dolphins.
“I feel it’s going to take 25 years to accomplish my goal of 100 monumental sculptures of all the great whale species, every species, and other aquatic animals with beautiful water elements in public places in 100 cities around the world. We just did the first one, only 99 more to go.”
Wyland Whaling Walls in Hawaii
Pacifica Airport Center, Honolulu, Oahu
Polynesian Cultural Center, North Shore, Oahu
Sea Life Park, Waimanalo, Oahu
Kauai Village Shopping Center, Kapaa, Kauai
Kauai Village Clock Tower, Kapaa, Kauai
Royal Aloha Condominiums, Honolulu, Oahu
Navy Exchange, Pearl Harbor, Oahu
Wyland Gallery Locations in Hawaii
Haleiwa, 66-250 H Kamehameha Hwy, 96712. 808-637-8729
Honolulu, Beach Walk, 270 Lewers St. Suite I-102, 96815. 808-924-1322
Honolulu, The Wyland Waikiki, 400 Royal Hawaiian Avenue, 96815. 808-954- 4000
Kailua-Kona, 75-5770 Alii Drive, 96740. 808-334- 0037
Kapaa, 4504 Kukui St. Ste. 1 96746. 808-822-3719
Koloa, Poipu Fine Arts, 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr. 96756. 800 -992-5106
Lahaina, 711 Front Street, 96761. 808-667-2285
Pearl Harbor, Navy Exchange Store, 1025 Quincy Avenue, Suite 1020, 96860. 808- 421-3491