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The Muralist and the Whale

PAINTING A SENSE OF PLACE

On Oahu’s north shore, the tranquil town of Kahuku is defined by Hawaii’s natural beauty and fusion of local cultures. Nestled between the dramatic Ko‘olau Mountains and world-class surf destinations, it’s home to a small community that enjoys the simple life away from the bustle of urban centers, with one individual who has a talent for transforming Hawaii’s seascapes into works of art.

Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Hilton Alves grew up to become a waterman, community leader, and skilled painter. He was always inspired by the beauty of the ocean, expressing his creativity through art mediums including large-scale murals. Hilton began his global quest to paint “101 Perfect Waves” in Kalihi, Oahu, where he painted the Banzai Pipeline over 14,000 square-ft of wall space. Hilton is no stranger to Maui, as his third Perfect Wave of Honolua Bay is painted on Lower Main Street, Wailuku.

While the winter months in Maui are notorious for generating the big waves that Hilton paints, it also brings in one of Hawaii’s most anticipated visitors: humpback whales.

Humpback whales are not a foreign subject matter for Hilton, but a whale mural at Maui Ocean Center is definitely a first. As Maui Ocean Center moves closer to opening the Humpbacks of Hawaii Exhibit & 3D Sphere, in addition to the recent sightings of humpbacks in Maui waters, the timing was impeccable for Hilton to create two whale murals at the Aquarium.

maui ocean center, things to do in maui, maui activities
maui ocean center, things to do in maui, maui activities
maui ocean center, things to do in maui, maui activities

Murals are often centerpieces of communities and landmarks that help create a sense of place for residents and visitors. For Maui Nui, humpback whales have largely contributed to Maui’s identity and why living here in the islands is so unique.

Hilton is one example of how the ocean continues to inspire us to find ways to connect with nature and share it with those around us. It’s an opportunity to involve the community, schools, private institutions, and local governments to help bring the ocean to public view with a purpose, whether to highlight environmental challenges or celebrate the beauty of nature.

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