The Lodge at Koele Mural

The Lodge at Koele Mural by John Wullbrandt. Photographed for Pulama Lanai.

The Lodge at Koele has been closed since 2015, and it’s in the process of expansions and upgrades with a planned reopening late 2018. As part of the remodel, I’ve been going over to Lana’i to document some of the resorts original artworks.

For this visit I photographed the mural over the entranceway to The Lodge. Sounds simple, right?  Well… the project brought with it a “level 10” degree of difficulty. The mural is only 14×14 ft in size, but the ceiling is very low.  That makes it impossible to photograph the complete mural in a single shot.

To solve the problem, I taped a grid to the floor (just like how researchers do at architectural sites) and photographed in sections. The finished image is a 1.2GB layered composite of 9 individual photographs. After all of the elements were lined up, I went through an intense retouching and restoration session to fix shadows, fill in holes for the ceiling lights and remove the exit sign.

The backstory about the mural is even more impressive. It was created in 1990 by California and Hawaii-based artist John Wullbrandt. Several Lana’i resident artists helped with the painting. The poem encircling the compass was written by Kupuna Irene Kamahuialani Cockett Perry, who was born at Keomoku village in 1917. In just a few months she will be celebrating her 101st birthday. She was also a contributing artist.

This really is one of my favorite types of projects. Documenting and helping preserve Hawaii’s unique history and culture.