Award of Excellence
An Advocacy Award of Excellence is given to the Docomomo US/Hawaii chapter and Dr. William J. Puette, UHWO Center for Labor Education and Research, for the Isami Enomoto Labor Murals Preservation. When the Bank of Hawaii was planning to close its Kapahulu location in 2015, it reached out to Docomomo US/Hawaii to help find a home for five ceramic murals created by Hawaiian ceramist Isami Enomoto. Commissioned when the bank was built in 1960, the murals vividly capture an important moment in Hawaii’s history, depicting laborers and occupations in a style reminiscent of public art created under the Depression Era Public Works Administration. Docomomo US/Hawaii took quick action to temporarily store the murals and have them cleaned and conserved, while also spreading the word to try to find a permanent home. Dr. William J. Puette, the Director of CLEAR at the University of Hawaii West Oahu, which also houses an archive of labor history in Hawaii, had been following the story and thought CLEAR would be a perfect location. Over the next two years, Docomomo US/Hawaii and Dr. Puette raised almost $50,000 to move and install the new murals. In February 2018, a dedication ceremony was held at CLEAR and Docomomo US-Hawaii deeded the artworks to the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
“This project highlights the important linkages between art and design in the modern era. With so much focus on the exterior of a building, projects often overlook or do not consider the significance of the art and sculpture that is inside. The disappearance of these works diminishes the significance of the interior in addition to the overall understanding of the project and the artists that created them. They should not be left out of the preservation discussion.”