Wednesday, June 13, 2018


When I go back to an ongoing project I haven't touched for a while, I usually do one of these intro paragraphs to remind Gentle Reader(s) that the project exists, and maybe give an update on where it stands now. Public art around Portland was (if I remember right) the very first project I took on here; I'd moved downtown just before starting this thing, and the blog was part of exploring my new surroundings, at least when I wasn't getting worked up about Bush Jr. and Iraq and so forth. I've spent a lot of time in Honolulu over the last few years, and I quickly noticed the city was full of art too, including a lot of cool abstract stuff from the 1950s thru 1970s. So I did a bunch of art posts for a while, but eventually moved on to other projects, and anything I hadn't covered already ended up in Drafts while I went on about murals or Columbia Gorge bridges or something.

So with that introduction out of the way, our next stop on this revived project is Waiola, a groovy 60s fountain at Honolulu's vast and ever-expanding Ala Moana Mall. The mall has a lot of vintage art from that era and publishes their own Art Walk guide, which has a blurb about it:

George Tsutakawa’s Waiola, Hawaiian for “Living Waters,” honors the many cultures of the Pacific Basin living harmoniously in Hawaii. The structure of the statue stems from the Tibetan Obos, expressing the joy, humility and man’s desire for harmonic balance between space and matter.

Tsutakawa was on the art faculty at the UW in Seattle, and it turns out Portland's Lloyd Center Mall once had an outdoor fountain of his, which apparently was removed during one of the mall's many remodeling/rebranding efforts. I mentioned all this once before in a post about Na Manu Nu Oli, a fountain of similar vintage by a different artist, located outside a downtown office block. It seems that years ago a local newspaper's art critic compared the two fountains and explained why Waiola was better, which is a thing newspapers used to do back when they had money and employees. I also ran across a TikiCentral thread about Waiola, with a bunch of vintage photos of it & other Tsutakawa fountains. Yeah, the link goes to an entire website devoted to Tiki stuff, with argument-prone forums and everything; go for the midcentury art history, stay for the drink recipes.

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