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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 18, 2002

Whale of an exchange coming soon to Pearl

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Stretching for the ceiling while standing on a 10-foot ladder, marine artist Wyland dappled light blue accent with a paint sprayer on the life-size image of the 45-foot Hawaiian humpback whale looming overhead.

The rotunda ceiling of the Navy Exchange and Defense Commissary Mall at Pearl Harbor carries a mural by marine artist Wyland. The painting depicts a pod of Hawaiian humpback whales.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

It's a big mammal in a big mural on a big mall: the new two-story, 355,000-square-foot, $60 million Navy Exchange and Defense Commissary Mall at Pearl Harbor will have the biggest Navy exchange in the world and largest commissary on O'ahu.

The 255,000-square-foot exchange is expected to have a "premiere" opening on Oct. 25. Exchange profits and commissary surcharges are paying for the new facilities.

"Everything is on target," said Mike Cottrell, district manager and general manager of Navy Exchange Hawai'i. "Everything is tracking toward that (Oct. 25) date."

The 100,000-square-foot commissary, meanwhile, is slated to open Nov. 8. Cottrell said demolition of the adjacent facilities now being used may take place in January, and a grand opening will be held next May.

Working above a sea of scaffolding and a temporary floor high up in the mall's 70-foot high rotunda, Wyland said yesterday the "whaling wall," his 89th around the world, will probably be his last in Hawai'i as he seeks other locations for the next 11 to reach his goal of 100.

Three adult whales and two youngsters are depicted in deep blue seas while a manta ray and tuna pass through sun-streaked shallower waters above. A second project will include a rock formation fountain with a near life-size Wyland whale sculpture.

"It was a wonderful opportunity for me to give something back to the military, and the Navy is a perfect fit. They are on the front lines every day on the ocean," said Wyland, 45, who is donating the mural. "They are doing great things and I wanted to support the military's efforts to protect the oceans and us — we can do both."