WHAT IS THE ALOHA SPIRIT ART PROJECT? In a nutshell; it's an artistic endeavor seeking to share the essence of the Hawaiian's Aloha Spirit with the world, inspire humanity to reconnect with love using multiple art forms as a medium, and by default, neutralize to some extent the malevolence that bombards us every day.
Isn't that a question that crosses your mind? We have growing terrorism, extreme dogmatism, murder rate rising, people to one another despising, division, racism, political corruption, peace disruption, apathy, vanity depravity, and an entire array of negativity and insensitivity... but why? What's happening to our planet; our shared and only home? And what can we do to change the downward current trend?
All of the aforesaid negative situations can be defined by three words... lack of love! But what can we do?
In the early evening of July 14, 2016, after a whole day painting in my studio, I had dinner with my wife, and after supper we turned the TV on. We looked to settle down while watching TV. Oh, boy... was I wrong because what I saw was unsettling. The news was playing the horrific scenes of what had happened earlier that day in Nice, France, when a terrorist rammed a truck against a crowd celebrating the Day of the Bastille.
"Another terrorist attack?" I contemplated feeling upset.
As a father of two young boys, I was deeply touched by the images, but one in particular hit me hard. It was the image of the lifeless body of a little girl, right on the street, with her doll resting next to her. Although I couldn't see her because her body was covered, somehow a mental picture of her started to develop in my mind. I guess that's an attribute of all creative people; we see imagery that don't exist or hidden from us. I can see with clarity a whole painting in my head even though the canvas still blank.
So I envisioned her innocence; her playful behavior; her possible enthusiasm early that day going for a celebration with her family. Then I saw into her now shattered future; a future in which she would not have a career, find the love of her life, to have kids, to enjoy life, to obtain her goals and make her dreams come true. All kids are born with the intrinsic capacity to love.
But it is through our growing process that we learn to hate. And there she was; resting lifeless on the pavement with all of her capacity to love destroyed by the hate of an adult who, at certain point, must have been a kid capable of loving, too.
That's when I asked myself: "What happened to love?" I choked and tried vainly to hold my tears, so I shed a couple which I hid from my wife who, speechless (and that by itself is an extraordinary event), was seated next to me, not restraining her own tears as she is, speaking of emotional maturity, way ahead of me.
So the question remains: What happened to love? How can someone be so devoid of love to run over innocent people with a truck? A truck that wasn't fueled by petrol; it was fueled by hatred! And what can we, collectively, do to neutralize such hate?
Realistically, we will never eliminate evil, but we can counteract it and lean the balance to favor love, kindness and compassion, wouldn't you agree? But we must act.
Besides my kids and personal convictions, part of my inspiration and motivation for this project is based on having seen evil actions up close and personal.
It all happened when a friend of mine lost her life during an international sporting event in which she was the center of the occasion. That tragic episode eventually led me to meet with James Cameron.
He's well known for his Box Office record-breaking films like Terminator, Titanic and more recently Avatar. In due time, I wrote a book describing everything that happened to Audrey. She was a beautiful female athlete looking to set a new world record in the extreme sport of freediving. She passed away while I was desperately trying to revive her with an eventually futile CPR... but she was beyond hope. Sadly, that event became a life-changing experience for me as I witnessed how the wicked actions of another person, close to her and close to me, as well, resulted in her death. She was only twenty-eight years old.
With the world of freediving disconcerted about her then mysterious death, and after I embarked in a painful, long and shockingly revealing investigation, I published my findings in a now a published book.
I met James Cameron because he was looking to take her story to the big screen, but if that will ever happen only he knows. His plan in that regard seems to be pending due to his current commitment to the Avatar saga. If he would ever use my book, only he knows, too. If he wants to portray the truth that's the only choice he has, but Hollywood and the truth are sometimes in conflict. Besides, I rather leave that chapter of my life where it belongs; in the past. What matters to me is to move on, learn from the experience, and to never allow the kind of malice that took her life, to ever pollute my soul.
Cameron is a gifted cinematographer, but when I met him, what caught my attention was his cleverness. Personally, I esteem intellect over celebrity status anytime, and being the sharp individual he is, I recall an accurate analogy he made during a documentary about Titanic. He described the doomed ship as a "micro Cosmos of the world today".
Cameron verbally illustrated a parallelism between today's society and Titanic's passengers with the marked disparity between social classes onboard, the struggle of the less favored to survive, the widespread disdain or apathy of the wealthy towards them, the increased greed of some at the expense of the working class, the selfishness, the lack of interest to save others, and many other circumstances that ended up costing more lives than it should on that fatidic day Titanic hit the iceberg. And he's right. That's a great analogy for the world we live in right now. What to do then?
Love is the answer, my friends. When you love you don't harm others. It's a simple equation. Love and hate cannot coexist any more than light and darkness cannot coexist, either. That terrorist ramming the truck was devoid of light. He was, like any other human being, capable of love, but the switch was off. He's heart and soul was consumed by darkness, but at what point did he start to be taken by the dark side, I wonder. Was it a personal choice or was he influenced by others? Nothing we can do for him, or the many hateful people in the world, but we can plant the seed of love and compassion for future generations, and the moment to start doing it is right now!
That's why Jesus Christ gave His command; "To love one another." John Lennon had it clear; "All you need is love." Gandhi is who told us what to do: "Be the difference you want to see in the world," and Buddha gave us the way to do it when he said:
By using art as the carrier of love as a message to humanity, that's exactly what THE ALOHA SPIRIT ART PROJECT is all about.
BUT, ONE HUNDRED CITIES; IS IT POSSIBLE? As a member of the OCEAN ARTISTS SOCIETY, founded by renowned marine-life artists Guy Harvey, Wyland and photographer/cinematographer Bob Talbot, I am well aware of Wyland's works.
Years ago Wyland painted one hundred murals around the globe. He delivered an effective message for the protection of marine species that resonated for years. Many people these days are more proactive when it comes to marine-life and ocean preservation because of his project; not so dissimilar THE ALOHA SPIRIT ART PROJECT.
Wyland continues these days planting the seed through programs in which he goes to schools and delivers the message to the next generation. However, as time passes, many of the murals are now gone; some of the paintings faded away, while some of the buildings or structures where the murals were painted have been destroyed, and with them, their message. On the contrary, the sculptures are long-lasting elements, so the core message of this project will be preserved for a very long time; perhaps for ever.
So, is it a challenging and demanding enterprise? Yes, it is! But you, as part of humankind, are worth the effort. And for my sons, based on the infinite love I feel for them, there is nothing I wouldn't do.
Now let's get into the rewards and how we, together, can make this project happen.
The multi-talented staff at THE ALOHA SPIRIT ART PROJECT only wants to use our combined creativity, talents and experience to produce the art that will become your voice.
Next is a series of slides showing a visual reference of the rewards. There is plenty for you to choose; from memorabilia especially designed to financially support and commemorate this project, to artworks (Prints, Limited Editions, Original Paintings and Limited Edition bronze replicas of the sculptures to be placed around the world).
But before you check them out; be aware that the name of every single backer (only by your approval, of course), will be listed in THE ALOHA SPIRIT ART PROJECT book in appreciation and recognition of your support, regardless of pledge level.
Additionally, the second edition of the book, to be published at the completion of the project, will be sent as a gift of love from us, in acknowledgement for your commitment. The date of delivery for this second edition is To Be Determined; I anticipate for this project to take a while, and probably additional campaigns, as well before completion. But this is my personal commitment to give back to you for your support.
Also, backers committed to pledges including Limited Editions and original artworks, bronze replicas, or those who provide their support to "open the doors" in their own cities for us to go there and install a sculpture (yes, calls will be made to get your help), will have their name permanently placed along with the monument.
The first city will be in Hawaii, as the symbolic launching of the Aloha Spirit to the world. Conversations with the local authorities for location, permits and other incidentals are already in progress. And their Aloha Spirit shows because they are very excited!!!
Likewise with the second location in Miami, Florida; my current hometown and of Manuel Valdes/Art & Sculpture Unlimited. The Mayor for one of the cities has given the okay and will seek financial help from the local businesses. (Allow me to keep names and places reserved until the project is funded and we are ready to go.)
The third location is in Europe, more likely Spain, and conversations are just in the primary stage but looking good, as well. In the end, who doesn't want to have a monument of love in their city? We will even seek assistance from you, the backers, to open some doors for us in your own cities. Would you like to have one of the sculptures located in a public place in your city promoting the Aloha Spirit?
Risks and challenges
Except for a catastrophic event, there are no foreseeable risks for the backers. This is the project's launching campaign, and all items offered, from memorabilia to artworks, have been carefully budgeted. The backers are covered. The current budget is not going any further than the first three sculptures/cities. The stretch goal is what may extend the number of cities from the get go.
This is our first campaign in Kickstarter, but this project is also a long-term commitment that will require additional campaigns to reach the final goal. Therefore, to gain and maintain credibility with the backers is vital. The biggest risk falls upon my shoulders, and as the mind and creative power behind this project, I'm taking full responsibility for it.
The biggest risk falls upon my shoulders. My credibility depends upon gathering the support needed to move this project forward. The creation of one hundred monuments to be placed in an equal number of cities is much easier to be said than done. The resources required for the sculpting side of the project are considerable. Each sculpture may cost from $7,000 to $20,000 depending on size and complexity. A simple math can establish how much will eventually cost to reach the final objective.
That's why this project has been planned as a multi-venue and multi-stages venture. Additional to this campaign, the planning also contemplates obtaining resources from the cities, potential sponsorships and other venues that may ensure our capacity to reach the goal. That may include expenses covered by having lodging and meals offered by hotels and air travel by the airliners. I've done it many times before, when I organized international events in diving, and it's not hard to do. But having travel accommodations can increase the funds available to create more sculptures, reach more cities and then to reach more people.
More likely, once the word-of-mouth starts rolling, propelled by the promotional campaign that is also in place, cities themselves will ask to be part of this. Based on its message, I visualize this project to become a movement, maybe even larger than estimated. Wishful thinking? Maybe, but then again: "If your dreams don't scare you, they are not big enough!"