Karuizawa, in the famous “Japanese Alps” northwest of Tokyo, is home to beautiful mountain scenery, trails to waterfalls, spectacular roads winding through steep canyons, golf resorts, and beautiful autumn leaves. I was able to visit the area back in 2002 and had a wonderful time camping and riding with an old college friend on a motorcycle through the spectacular fall colors.
So I’m quite excited to be going back to Karuizawa soon, this time to install five sculptures commissioned for a development called XIV Karuizawa. (They are Roman numerals but pronounced as ‘Eksiv’.) The company developing the project, Resorttrust Inc., was introduced to my work by the Tokyo-based curator and art consultant Takaki Tanaka, director of Art Inter, Ltd. Also involved in the project are architectural firm Nikken Sekkei, and Sumisho Interior.
Mr. Tanaka and his assistant Yuko Suzuki first contacted me in early 2011, and scheduled a visit to Los Angeles for March. As it so happened, the great earthquake and tsunami struck the northeast coast of Japan just days before they were to leave. They persevered through those chaotic days and made the trip anyway. It was at this time we first met at my studio and they described the project for me with some preliminary blueprints and renderings.
The resort in Karuizawa was first developed some years ago, but a new wing is being built called the West Annex. It was the owner’s thought to have four large sculptures placed along the pathway outside the residences as a sculpture garden, and they considered a number of artists from Japan and other countries. At first the plan was for the various sculptors to each submit a preliminary proposal. However, a few weeks after the art consultants’ return to Tokyo, I was notified that the owners had selected me to do the project.
I worked on sketches for a number of months, going back and forth via email with the owners and building designers and art consultants. Near the end of this process, it was decided to add a smaller fifth sculpture, to be placed in a covered open air terrace which serves as a second floor elevator landing. And the other sculptures locations were adjusted to distribute the now five works better. With all the sculpture design sketches and placements agreed upon, the commission agreement was finalized at the end of July 2011.
So the sculptures will be made on a tight schedule over the coming months in my studio in the Los Angeles area, and crated for shipment at the end of November 2011. I should be in Karuizawa for the installation in early January. This will certainly be a busy time, as creating four large sculptures in only four months, plus the smaller one, is quite a task. I would normally ask for 3 months to do one sculpture.
Below are some shots of the Karuizawa area I took on my trip there in 2002. Later during this trip I was also able to visit the magnificent outdoor sculpture museum at Hakone which is closer to the Mt Fuji area. You could hardly wish for a better backdrop or inspiration for a sculpture garden than the Japanese mountains, and I’m quite fortunate to have this opportunity.