National News

Wyland protesting removal of murals near Honolulu airport

Posted August 18, 2017 10:40 a.m. EDT

— Well known Hawaii artist Wyland is in a battle with Hawaiian Airlines over the potential removal of two landmark murals near the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

The airlines owns the building the murals are on. But the artist says the company has no right to remove them.

The 35,000 sq foot mural is one of two paintings on the Pacifica Airport Building.

Both were created by marine life artist Wyland in 1999.

The renowned painter says the conservation themed murals were a gift to the city and was furious when Hawaiian Airlines notified him it was doing away with his work.

"We're giving you legal notice Wyland that we're going to paint over both of your murals. and I got back to him and I said no you're not I said these murals are federally protected, by the visual artist rights act and they're the property of the artist," Wyland said.

Wyland says he had an agreement with the building's previous owner.

Hawaiian purchased the building last May and wants to give the aging structure a facelift.

That includes repainting the exterior. After months of back and forth negotiation with Wyland, he says the airline offered to allow him to restore the mural if he signed a liability agreement.

"It's not about the art. It's really about the safety, it's about the safety of Wyland and his assistance painting the building and it's also in addition about the safety of our tenants in the building," Scott Miyasato, Legal Counsel for Hawaiian Airlines said.

Wyland says he's willing to restore the mural but refuses to sign the agreement

"I'm sticking up for all the artist on the planet right now. Right now at this moment, if I can save this mural, there's hope for all the art in Hawaii, all of the art in America and around the world. If I can't and they get away with this, then all art is exposed," he said.

Photographer Kim Taylor Reece says the dilemma threatens Hawaii's arts industry.

"We need to protect our artist rights, we need to support the artist, we need to support art in public places. I mean it's not in schools anymore," he said.

Hawaiian says it has a long history of showcasing local artists and will continue to work with Wyland until an agreement is reached.