Wyland Unites a Million Kids, Paints a Mile-Long Wall, Takes Over Oahu

Wyland Unites a Million Kids, Paints a Mile-Long Wall, Takes Over Oahu

Just prior to the holiday weekend, famed ocean artist (and philanthropist) Wyland stood in the lobby of his signature (quite literally; it's everywhere) hotel in Waikiki and announced an initiative for his involvement with the upcoming Olympics in Beijing.

Along with the help of thousands of children around the globe, Wyland will complete his 100th "Whaling Wall" project in Beijing. Every day between July 7th and July 21st, Wyland is meeting with kids from 14 nations to work on a mile-long wall that addresses threatened marine wildlife around the world. Two-hundred and five nations and a few thousand kids later, a mile's worth of canvases will have been painted.

"Twenty-seven years ago, while visiting Hawaii, a journalist asked me how many of these whale murals I would do," admitted Wyland at a press conference last Thursday. "I immediately said 'A hundred.' The lesson might be to watch what you say."

Yet the story isn't as much as what Wyland will do in Beijing on the world stage; nor is it so much about the projects he announced he is undertaking in the months to come (an alleged takeover of the Turtle Bay Resort, and a signature Hawaii license plate are among them—read on to hear about both). The story is that Wyland has spent the majority of his success uniting children across the globe in a concentrated effort to change the way our environment is treated.

"It's art and science," shared Wyland. "When you get those things together and then get kids in the mix, you can change the world. Plus, the success of my Wyland galleries and my companies has really elevated the Wyland Foundation goals."

The foundation he speaks of is a worldwide non-profit supported by UNEF, Al Gore, Sylvia Earle and even local boy Henry Kapono, who Wyland formally invited to join him in Beijing as a thanks for his continued environmental efforts across Hawaii.

In Beijing, Wyland explained that 205 canvases will be painted by children from the 205 Olympic nations, starting on July 7th. Wyland will meet with 7 nations in the morning, another 7 in the evening, and assist them with the paintings. On the afternoon of July 21st, he will meet with the 7 delegates from China. After which, each child will be presented by a member of their country's Olympic team with a youth ambassador medal, on behalf of the Wyland Foundation. They will then hold hands with 1 million Chinese kids on live TV; giving the movement the "Hands Across the Oceans" title.

"After empowering these kids, we ask them to return home and change their country for the better. It's an incredible opportunity for both us and the kids," added Wyland, who noted that the entire ceremony will be streamed live on his web site, www.WylandFoundation.org.

Wyland touched on a particularly negative issue he is linked with in California, where the state government used his image on a license plate that garnered $41 million.

"They sent my foundation a check for $20,000, and I didn't think it was appropriate," Wyland said. "It's a big bureaucracy, and that I understand. But I told them to stop using my image, and it doesn't appear they will."

This unfortunate occurrence prompted Wyland to draw up a mock license plate for the State of Hawaii—that includes the image of a monk seal. He's currently working with the state to get it used as an official Hawaii license plate. This time, in addition to getting a deal in writing, Wyland hopes to share 10% of the profits with Jack Johnson's Kokua Foundation, and let the State of Hawaii keep 80%, while the remainder goes to his own foundation.

He also noted a soon-to-come line of "green" garb in partnership with Crazy Shirts. When a reporter asked about the prospect of another Wyland hotel, like the one situated on Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki, Wyland responded:

"I like the sound of Wyland Turtle Bay," which was met with a great murmur. "But I'm not promising anything. I've spoken with Governor Lingle about doing something for the turtles and seals up there, and I've already got a mural on the building. They wouldn't even have to change anything," he joked.

Or was he?