Preserving Isami Enomoto's Labor Murals


Docomomo US/Hawaii


Docomomo US/Hawaii


Newsletter, Advocacy, chapter, Hawaii, Isami Enomoto, Murals
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The Project

On Oct. 31, 2015, the Bank of Hawaii closed its Kapahulu branch and sold the building, which was home to a set of five 1961 murals by acclaimed Hawaii artist Isami Enomoto depicting labor in the islands. The bank did not want to keep the murals, and when none of the state’s established art institutions were able to accept them, the Docomomo US/Hawaii Chapter assumed responsibility for the preservation of these artistically and historically important murals. The Bank of Hawaii donated the artwork, which was appraised at $50,000, to the organization.

To date, the Docomomo US/Hawaii Chapter has spent $5,000 for moving, crating, and storage of the works, which range in size from 6'-8"x6'-6" to 11'-2"x6'-2 , with the largest piece estimated to weigh 650 pounds. Happily, the Docomomo US/Hawaii Chapter has found a home for the murals at the Center for Education and Labor Research (CLEAR) at University of Hawai‘i - West O‘ahu, which has agreed to publicly display the murals.

However, it is estimated to cost $50,000 to prepare the wall, and clean, repair, move, and install the murals. The Docomomo US/Hawaii Chapter now seeks to raise the funds so the murals are preserved and can be shared with the people of Hawaii.

The Art

Rendered in a style reminiscent of Depression Era public works art projects, these
five murals by the late Isami Enomoto depict laborers and occupations, vividly capturing an important moment in Hawaii's history. Commissioned by the Bank of Hawaii shortly after statehood, and amid the Democratic revolution that in 1962 would result in the election of John Burns as Governor of Hawaii, the murals make it very clear that the bank well saw power shifting from a Republican oligarchy to a more broad-based government rooted in the working class. As such, the mural is not only a rare example of a 1960s large-scale ceramic piece, but also serves as a reminder of this dramatic time in Hawaii’s history .

The murals visually depict—and champion—a socially and economically just society in Hawaii, much as Diego Rivera's Depression-era murals at San Francisco's Coit Tower did in the 1930s. The ceramic murals are a powerful reminder of Hawaii's labor past and the important role it plays in our society.

How you can help

The Docomomo US/Hawaii chapter asks for help in raising the necessary funds for the reinstallation and dedication of these murals at the Center for Labor Education and Research. Donate to the Labor Murals Fund TODAY to help protect and preserve this important part of Hawaii’s history, art, and culture.

The amount of your gift is tax deductible. Please make checks payable to:

Docomomo US/Hawaii Chapter
P.O. Box 75633
Honolulu, HI 96836