Palikū Arts Festival shines despite the rain

learn how to sand makau (fish hook necklaces) at Hale ‘Iolani –Leighland Tagawa

On April 7, the annual Palikū Arts Festival took place on campus despite rainy weather.

“We have been worried that the rain would stop people from coming, but that was not the case,” said festival co-director Ben Moffat. “We had an excellent crowd. The truth is that on sunny days in festivals past, the crowds sometimes got too big and there were long lines for activities and food.”

During the all-day event, there were many hands-on art activities around campus. The tie dye station with WCC art professor and Gallery ‘Iolani coordinator Toni Martin, in which participants designed and made their own tie-dyed squares, was one of the most popular activities among keiki. At Hale Pālanakila, there was also a drawing studio, face painting booth and screen printing display. Gallery ‘Iolani showcased an exhibit, Ē Luku Wale Ē, of photographs by WCC art professor Mark Hamasaki and former WCC art lecturer Kapulani Landgraf of the H-3 freeway under construction.

Many faculty and students volunteered their time at the festival. Student Manowai Morgan Kobashigawa was at the woodcarving station in Hale ‘Iolani, which was filled to capacity with kids and parents working on different wood carving activities.

“We were teaching them how to finish makau (fish hook necklaces),” said Kobashigawa, who has been part of the wood carving class at WCC for the last two years. “We had makau blanks for them and taught them how to finish them and also had little soap carving activities for the kids. We also had a tour set up of our woodcarving program. Not too much people carve and so getting to see how to carve old implements like chisels or angle grinders. From the people that I talked to, it seems that they were really excited about it.”

Student Cynthia Lee Sinclair has been a constant presence at the Palikū Arts Festival, volunteering at the event for three years.

“I first started volunteering at the Palikū Arts Festival as a clown,” said Sinclair, who has been a professional clown for 30 years. “When I first started helping out, the theatre department was not even involved yet. Now, the event has tripled in size.”

Former WCC drama and theatre professor Ben Moffat started the festival in 2011 during his last year of teaching at the college. He said the goal is to demonstrate how fun learning can be and that “enjoyment that can come from trying something outside of one’s comfort zone.”

Phots by Leighland Tagawa

All art supplies at the festival were provided for free, and there was no admission fee.

“The event is to show the community on this island the wealth of opportunities at WCC in the fine, performing and literary arts,” added Moffat. “In that sense, the festival is a great marketing tool. So many times I hear people say, ‘I never knew all this was up here!’ The college is still a well-kept secret for many on O‘ahu. Also, Doug Dykstra has said that the Palikū Arts Festival is our gift to the community.”

As for the future of the festival, Moffat hopes to see other WCC programs and classes incorporated in the event.

“We would like the festival to continue to evolve naturally,” he said. “A few years back we started to include Language Arts. Next year, we hope to involve the Natural Sciences department. At the same time, we don’t want the festival to become a burden on the faculty, students, staff and administration. Everyone already has plenty of work to do, so we want it to be an event that is manageable.”


by Leighland Tagawa, Ka ‘Ohana Editor in Chief