I Lei Aloha Nou, a stunning, 1,100-square-foot mural now greets guests at the Aloha Landing at Sheraton Waikiki. I Lei Aloha Nou, which means “a lei of love for you” in Hawaiian, was introduced on Wednesday, October 12 at Aloha Landing, the transit hub at the hotel, which is used by dozens of buses to transport hundreds of guests daily to destinations and activities around the island.
The mural is a colorful and striking depiction of lei making by artist Kai‘ili Kaulukukui, a native of Hawai‘i Island, for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) and Sheraton Waikiki. The lei is an internationally recognized symbol of Hawaiian hospitality and of the Hawai‘i experience. According to Kaulukukui, I Lei Aloha Nou portrays the simple act of stringing together a flower lei. Brilliant yellow plumeria – a floral icon usually often associated with the Islands – are prominently featured as a reminder of Hawai‘i’s natural beauty, and well-delineated hands signify the tactile and very personal nature of lei making.
Kelly Sanders, area managing director for Sheraton Waikiki and its sister properties in Waikiki, worked with the CNHA to make the mural a reality. “At Sheraton Waikiki, the warmth and cordiality of our associates are not lost in the hustle and bustle,” says Sanders. “This beautiful piece now serves as a visual memory of that gracious hospitality.”
A classically trained oil painter, Kaulukukui studied fine art at the University of Hawai‘i and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Today, he works out of Lana Lane Studios in Kaka‘ako and serves as ground operations manager of PangeaSeed Foundation, an international marine conservation organization that utilizes artivism (art + activism) to inspire ocean stewardship. Kaulukukui, along with artist Cory Taum, spent more than a week, contributing over 150 manhours on preparing and painting the actual mural at the hotel.
“Sheraton Waikiki was made for art, and this is truly a picture-perfect way to share our culture and aloha with our guests,” says Director of Cultural Services Thelma Kehaulani Kam.