MATERIALS: Hand-built glazed ceramic, patinated bronze, stainless steel, granite
DIMENSIONS: 21 elements; 22,000 square feet; 26.5 x 462 x 80 feet
LOCATION: South Entrance of the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa
For Jun Kaneko, the audience coming and going to concerts, sporting events and conferences at the Mid-America Center posed a challenge. How could he design a space that would inspire curiosity?
After much study, Kaneko developed a concept for a 22,000 square foot sculpture garden with 21 individual elements, the largest installation of his career. With a site nearly the size of a football field, framed by one side of the arena building, the artist created two tile walls to provide a sense of scale.
At the entrance of the garden, three huge bronze heads on pedestal like tables create a larger than life welcome. Two groupings of Kaneko’s brightly patterned signature dangos then invite visitors to explore. The ceramic forms are complimented by a surface of black and white textured granite with seat walls and benches. Each clay dango is built by hand and glazed in a meticulous process that takes months. The colorful forms are built for the ages, much like the stones created by volcanoes.
Kaneko named the garden Rhythm. He hopes that visitors enjoy the space in their own way and perhaps find that it inspires creativity.
Born in Nagoya, Japan in 1942, Jun Kaneko studied painting through his adolescence before coming to the United States in 1963. He studied ceramics at Chouinhard Institute of Art and then taught at some of America’s leading art schools including Scripps College and Rhode Island School of Design.
Kaneko is internationally recognized for large scale ceramic, bronze and glass sculptures. In following his creative interests, the artist’s career has taken many dramatic turns. The diverse media in his portfolio include tile wall forms, vibrant drawings and boldly patterned paintings. Stunning sets and costumes designed and created for Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly show that his life’s work knows no boundaries.
Today, Kaneko’s studio is in a warehouse district in Omaha, Nebraska which is also home for a unique institution called KANEKO. Founded by the artist and his wife, Ree Kaneko, the center is intended for the exploration of creativity in the arts, sciences and philosophy.
Among the many exhibitions of his career, more than thirty public art installations can be found throughout the United States and Japan. In 2008, the New York City Public Art Program presented Kaneko’s signature bronze heads on Park Avenue. His work is also featured in more than 70 museum collections worldwide. Kaneko has received honorary doctorates from The Royal College of Art in London, the University of Nebraska, and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.