Enomoto ceramic mural depicting Hawaii labor scene
Enomoto ceramic mural depicting Hawaii labor scene, man writing numbers
Enomoto ceramic mural depicting Hawaii labor scene, people doing contruction

An effort to rescue, restore and install labor murals by noted Hawaiʻi ceramic artist Isami Enomoto has earned University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu’s Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR) a Preservation Award from the Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation. Enomoto’s work graces several mid-century buildings.

The award will be presented to William Puette, CLEAR director, along with Docomomo USHawaiʻi and Bank of Hawaiʻi, during the Preservation Honor Awards Ceremony on May 23.

CLEAR helped raise approximately $43,000 for the restoration and installation, and secured wall space in the James and Abigail Campbell Library to display the murals. The murals were installed in December 2017.

“The murals were meticulously restored and relocated to a meaningful and publicly accessible location,” noted Kirsten Faulkner, Historic Hawaiʻi executive director, in a letter to Puette. “We congratulate you and your exemplary preservation efforts.”

Faulkner also noted that the Preservation Honor Awards are Hawaiʻi’s highest recognition of preservation projects that perpetuate, rehabilitate, restore or interpret the state’s architectural, archaeological and/or cultural heritage.

The award caps off the multi-year mural restoration project. Enomoto’s five murals, which depict Hawaiʻi labor scenes in the early 1960s, hung above teller stations at the Bank of Hawaiʻi branch on Kapahulu Avenue until 2015 when the location was sold.

At Bank of Hawaiʻi’s request, Docomomo USHawaiʻi agreed to warehouse the large pieces while it searched for their new home. Docomomo US is a non-profit group dedicated to understanding, preserving and documenting the modern movement in planning, architecture, landscapes and public art.

From E Kamakani Hou.

—By Greg Wiles