HiSAM Sculpture Garden

About the Sculpture Garden

The HiSAM Sculpture Garden was once a recreational area that featured a large swimming pool and bleachers. This area has now been transformed to serve again as an urban oasis. It retains elements that evoke memories of the pool, offering pathways for discovery and sites for reflection. Here in the Sculpture Garden the building, selected plantings, and works of art merge to form a multi-faceted environment that will delight all the senses. All artworks are from the Art in Public Places Collection of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Hawai‘i’s state government arts agency.

Artworks in the Sculpture Garden

Untitled by Satoru Abe

Copper sculpture by Satoru Abe

Artist: Satoru Abe. Title: Untitled. Medium: copper panels. Year: 2011

Sculptor and painter Satoru Abe is known for his expressions of the cycle of life – birth, growth, death and rebirth – often symbolized by forms such as a tree, a moon, or a meditating figure. This series of copper panels uses several of the artists’ signature images. Abe studied at the California School of Fine Arts and the Art Students League in New York City. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1963 and a National Endowment for the Arts, Artist-in-Residence grant in 1970.

Gaea (Mother Earth) by Bumpei Akaji

Copper Sculpture by Bumpei Akaji

Artist: Bumpei Akaji Title: Gaea (Mother Earth). Medium: copper sculpture. Year: 1984.

In Italy after WWII, Bumpei Akaji studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence and in Milan on a Fulbright Scholarship. Returning to Hawai‘i, he received an MFA in painting from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa in 1951. Fascinated with shape and form, Akaji incorporated aspects of painting in his sculptural work. Copper sheets were welded, pounded, and the surfaces treated with heat and chemicals to create rich variations in color and texture.

Trigger Picasso Energy by Carol Bennett

Artwork by Carol Bennett that combines art, science, architecture, and photovoltaic cells.

Artist: Carol Bennett. Title: Trigger Picasso Energy. Medium: enamel on glass, photovoltaic cells. Year: 2011.

Combining art, science and architecture, this work transforms the way we see the world around us. Photovoltaic cells within the work absorb the sun’s energy, while the fused enamel glass canopy provides shade for the garden. Carol Bennett received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, in 1979. Carol began visiting Kaua‘i in 1974 and made her move permanent in 1990.

Ke Kia‘i (The Guardian) by Sean K.L. Browne

Granite sculpture by Sean K. L. Browne

Artist: Sean K.L. Browne Title: Ke Kia‘i (The Guardian). Medium: granite. Year: 2003.

Sean K. L. Browne pays homage to his ancestors with this representation of the Hawaiian adze – upright, solid, steadfast – saying, “their strength and perseverance have allowed us to be what we are today . . . and we too will become guardians protecting and nurturing future generations.” Browne is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Redlands, California, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa.

King Kamehameha I Uniting the Hawaiian Island Kingdom by Hon Chew Hee

Enamel on steel art work by Hon-Chew Hee titled "King Kamehameha I Uniting the Hawaiian Island Kingdom"

Artist: Hon-Chew Hee Title: King Kamehameha I Uniting the Hawaiian Island Kingdom. Medium: enamel on steel. Year: 1976.

Throughout his career as a painter and printmaker, Hon-Chew Hee was known for combining bold colors with stylized figures and geometric designs to create his distinctive story-telling images. He spent nine years of his childhood in China studying the Chinese classics before returning to Hawai‘i. Hee went on to study at the California School of Fine Arts, Columbia University, the Art Students League in New York, and the Paris studios of Andre L’Hote and Fernand Leger.

Untitled by Jun Kaneko

Closed form hand built glazed ceramic sculpture by Jun Kaneko

Artist: Jun Kaneko Title: Untitled. Medium: hand built glazed ceramic. Year: 2000.

Although Japanese artist Jun Kaneko was originally trained as a painter, he felt that ceramics had the potential to be as monumental and heroic as paintings. In 1991, he developed the form of the “dango,” which is Japanese for a small oval dumpling. Kaneko produced numerous large-scale “dango” that serve not only as sculptures, but also as three-dimensional canvases, using multi-colored glazes like paint. Vertical drips, geometric forms, and sweeping gestural brushstrokes are reminiscent of Abstract Expressionist paintings.

Untitled by William Mitchell

HSAM Sculpture Garden

Artist: William Mitchell Title: Untitled. Medium: sandblasted stained concrete. Year: 1972.

William Mitchell describes this work as “thoughts carved in concrete,” a grand sketch from the artists’ vision of Polynesia. The mural was created for the Women’s Architectural League to benefit the University of Hawai‘i School of Architecture. Mitchell was educated at the University of Southampton, the Royal College of Art in London, and the British School in Rome. His large-scale commissions in concrete, glass, and metal include the two-storey waterfall sculpture for the U.S. Courthouse and Federal Office Building in Honolulu.

Ceramic Tree by Toshiko Takaezu

Three closed form handbuilt ceramic pieces by Toshiko Takaezu

Artist: Toshiko Takaezu Title: Ceramic Tree. Medium: handbuilt ceramic. Year: 1990.

Toshiko Takaezu’s signature closed forms often reflect elements in nature. In the 1970s, inspired by trees that had been damaged by lava on the Big Island, she began producing tall, slender cylindrical forms, often displayed in small groupings to suggest a forest landscape. Takaezu was educated at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan. She was designated as a “Living Treasure” in both Hawai‘i and New Jersey, where she taught for many years at Princeton University.

Jax Bench by Fred Roster

Sculpture of three dogs on a bench.

Artist: Fred Roster Title: Jax Bench. Medium: bronze sculpture. Year: 1990.

Throughout his career, Fred Roster developed a personal vocabulary that combines difference materials into figurative and narrative sculptures. He drew from his experience in ceramics, woodcarving, and metal casting to create works that express social and human concerns. According to the artist, the dogs in the sculpture, “serve as a metaphor for human change.”

An enamel on glass art work by Doug Young transforms the former pool in the Sculpture Garden at HiSAM.

Artist: Doug Young Title: Waikui. Medium: enamel on glass. Year: 2011.

Waikui by Doug Young

Using an old place name for a part of the coastline of the island of Hawai‘i where fresh water met the ocean, this work was created in remembrance of the historic YMCA swimming pool that once occupied this space. This glass sculpture incorporates a dual layered image, symbolizing the merging of the pool water with an overlay of coastal ocean water. Doug Young studied in New York and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Coe College, Iowa in 1973.

All photographs © David Franzen, 2012

View Artworks Online

The artworks in the Sculpture Garden can be viewed in the SFCA’s Art in Public Places online catalog: Art in Public Places Catalog. You can also search the Public Art Archive or the Locate Public Art web app for permanently installed artworks in the collection, such as sculptures at public buildings.

About the No. 1 Capitol District Building

The building now designated as No. 1 Capitol District Building occupies a site in downtown Honolulu with a rich history. The Hawaiian Hotel, later called the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, was built on the site in 1872 and relocated to Waikiki in the early 20th century. The Army and Navy YMCA then used the original building before it was demolished and reconstructed in 1927 in its present form. Listed on both State and National Registers as an Historic building, it was rehabilitated by the Hemmeter Corporation in the late 1980s. It was acquired by the State in 2000 and became the home of the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and the Hawai‘i State Art Museum along with several other state offices.

About the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ Art in Public Places Program

In 1967 Hawai‘i became the first state in the nation to adopt a “Percent for Art Law.” This visionary legislation sets aside one percent of all state building construction costs for the acquisition of works of art.

This primary purpose of the public art program is to beautify and humanize the built environment.

The Hawai‘i State Art Museum furthers the educational objectives of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts by providing greater understanding of the meaning and significance of the arts through exhibition and interpretation of works from the collection.

Sculpture Garden Art Advisory Committee

Ronald Yamakawa, former SFCA Executive Director
Daniel Chun, FAIA
James Hisano
Gina Ichiiyama
Marcia Roberts-Deutsch
Peter Rosegg

HiSAM Sculpture Garden Curators

Jonathan Johnson
James Kuroda

Architectural Consultant

Group 70, International
Linda C. Miki, AIA
Shirley Lum, Designer

General Contractor

Ralph S. Inouye Co., Ltd.

Landscape Architect

Michael M. Motoda