Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kepaakala (Sun Disc)

Today's stop on our tour of downtown Honolulu public art is Kepaakala (Sun Disc) by the late Tony Rosenthal. It's at the Bishop St. entrance to the Bank of Hawaii tower. I was going to speculate that its resemblance to a giant gold coin was a big selling point for the bank, but its Smithsonian database record insists it was commissioned by the tower's condominium owners (since it's a mixed-use building, with residences on the upper stories). The Smithsonian entry also categorizes it as "Abstract--Geometric Allegory--Place--Extraterrestrial", and notes that the disc is designed to rotate on its axis. The base is set back behind some shrubbery, so there's probably no socially correct way to give it a spin, though.

Sun Disc

Being spinnable puts it in the same company as Alamo, Rosenthal's most famous work, a giant black steel cube at Astor Place, in lower Manhattan. Apparently it was supposed to be temporary back in 1967, but local residents loved it and petitioned for it to stay, and it did, and has been a beloved landmark and meeting place ever since. I can see the attraction -- here's this giant metal cube, and you can just saunter up and give it a shove and spin it around, and nobody tasers you or tries to charge you $30 for the privilege. It would be popular for stress relief, if nothing else. I could see Sun Disc being a popular meeting spot too, if only it wasn't behind a hedge, and in front of a bank. The poor condo owners probably can't afford the liability insurance, though; if random passersby could just wander up and set it spinning, sooner or later some bratty kid would whack his kid brother with it, and personal injury lawyers would descend from the skies like tropical mosquitoes.

Sun Disc

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