Hawaiian Telcom paints over unauthorized Wyland whale mural

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaiian Telcom painted over an unauthorized mural on one of its buildings by renowned marine artist Robert Wyland.

The artist acknowledged he did not have permission to spray-paint the Maui building.

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The life-size image stretching 65 feet depicted a female humpback whale.

Wyland said he apologized and hoped Hawaiian Telcom would not paint over the mural he created during more than three hours of work over two days.

“I apologize for not running it up the food chain,” he said Monday. “I’m so passionate. I swear to God I don’t think about those things. I kind of painted it and look for forgiveness later.”

Hawaiian Telcom never received a direct apology from Wyland, the company said.

“Over the weekend, Hawaiian Telcom was notified by the Maui Police Department of possible unauthorized painting activity on one of our secured properties,” the company said in a statement.

“Hawaiian Telcom had not authorized any painting. As a public utility company, it is our responsibility to maintain our facilities, so today we took action to remove the unauthorized work,” the company said.

The part-time North Shore resident is known globally for his large “Whaling Wall” murals, which his website said have been painted in all 50 U.S. states and more than 100 countries.

Wyland was eating dinner at a restaurant Saturday and saw what he called “the ugliest eyesore wall” on the Telcom building.

He went to a hardware store, bought paint and began work, he said.

“I had a vision,” he said. “I saw whales swimming across the wall. It’s a powerful statement for not only the plight of the whales but the plight of the ocean.”

A large crowd of people cheered him on and he was left alone by a small group of police after telling an officer he had permission to paint the wall, he said.

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Regarding the false permission claim, Wyland said, “The controversy is part of the art.”

“There wasn’t one negative comment, except one cop who said it was vandalism,” Wyland said. “I said, ‘I added $1 million in value to this building.’”

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