Installation of the Sculpture Project in Karuizawa, Japan

I was in Japan from Jan. 9-14, installing the five sculptures for the resort in Karuizawa. (Original blog post describing this commission.) The sculpture crates all arrived by ship in Tokyo Harbor safe in their container and were unloaded and trucked to the XIV Karuizawa resort. ArtInter Tokyo, the art consultants managing the project, headed by Takaki Tanaka, arranged everything wonderfully and it all went quite smoothly. The installation crew of four were experts at this, being full-time art installers that do quite a bit of work maintaining the sculptures at the renowned Hakone Open Air Museum. So altogether there were seven of us on the installation.

The resort itself was a hive of activity to completely finish construction, as the building is scheduled to open for occupancy soon. This is really a first rate resort, and of course the legendary Japanese attention to detail was evident everywhere in all the design, the landscaping, the materials and finishes, everything.

XIV Karuizawa - the new resort - sculpture crates

XIV Karuizawa - the new resort - sculpture crates

Shipping a few thousand pounds of artwork nearly 6,000 miles, it gives you a bit of trepidation opening the crates. It was encouraging that the crates looked immaculate from the outside. Everything inside was in perfect shape.

We uncrated and moved all the sculptures to their positions, where footings had been poured to bolt them down. Unfortunately two of the footings were in positions that just weren’t quite right. We went ahead and placed the sculptures carefully, with the exact rotation and position I wanted. But since the two footings would have to be re-located and this would take some demolition and concrete work taking some days, there was no choice but to arrange to return later and finish the installation. So we took the sculptures to a temporary safe storage area. The crew was scheduled to return without me on Jan. 27 to finish the installation and anchoring.

So at the point these photos were taken, the installation is quite incomplete, the lighting is not finished, the buildings and landscaping aren’t quite there, and so I was unable to get great shots of the final sculptures in perfect settings.

Below is the first sculpture you would encounter leaving the resort lobby and starting down the path to the residences. The first photos are of the sculpture at my studio just before being crated up. 


And above is the same sculpture set down temporarily to determine it’s best position. On the level above, behind the railing, you can see the smaller sculpture In Virtue of Adversity

The rough-hewn granite pedestal I had designed for the fifth smaller sculpture turned out very nicely. It was built in Japan from my sketch. We were able to anchor this sculpture down permanently during my visit. (In this photo there is a bit of masking tape around the pedestal top to mask off the anchoring cement.) 

To explain a bit more about this resort, XIV Karuizawa is a large complex with a number of different sub-resorts in the same location. There is the original resort section called Grand XIV; while we were there we were given luxurious accommodations at the second complex Sanctuary Villas, shown above. The units are large suites with gorgeous glass sunrooms, formal Japanese tatami mat dining room, huge spa-quality bath – decadent.

My sculptures dot the grounds of an entire new wing of the resort – I’m not exactly sure what they will be calling it. There is also another half of this new wing, and the artwork there is a very long fountain installation by British artist Simon Allison.

The entire resort is actually a time share arrangement – XIV refers to the number 14 – each unit has 14 owners who are each entitled to time of 1/14th of a year or about 26 days. So no, in case you were wondering, it’s not a hotel open to the public that you could just make reservations at.

Hopefully I will be able to obtain much better photos of the sculptures in a fully finished installation in the next month or two.

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