CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts unveiled newly refurbished chandeliers yesterday in the Senate and House chambers at the state Capitol. Pictured is the nautilus shell-laden Moon chandelier in the Senate chambers.
Chandeliers rise renewed at the state Capitol
Both the "Sun" and "Moon" are rising at the state Capitol.
The koa-lined House and Senate chambers of the Capitol, completed in 1969, had to wait until 1971 for the two chandeliers, light sculptures called the Sun and Moon, to be installed.
Talks explore capitol art and architecture
As part of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts' 40th anniversary, the agency is sponsoring a series of talks on the refurbished sculptures and Hawaii's unique state Capitol. The talks at the Hawaii State Art Museum include:
» Today, 2 p.m.: Otto Piene, creator of the Sun and Moon sculptures, talks about his public art projects.
» Next Saturday, 2 p.m.: Conservator Rosa Lowinger explains how the Sun and Moon were restored.
» Jan. 21, 2 p.m.: Architect Joseph Farrell discusses the state Capitol's architecture.
» Jan. 28, 2 p.m.: Alan Sanborn and Frank Haines discuss the 1968 Warnecke plan for the Capital District and lead a virtual tour of the district's architecture.
The Senate's Moon, a silver ball of 630 chambered nautilus shells, and the Sun, a gold-plated sphere with 132 smaller golden orbs, were designed to subtly change color and intensity. Prisms in the Sun were to cast pale rainbows on the House ceiling, while colored lights were to glow in different hues from behind the Moon's shells.
But the 1971 computer program did not work, the chandeliers were used as simple lights and, nearly 35 years later, few recalled that the lights were actually $125,000 art pieces.
After six years of planning, the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts rededicated the two refurbished sculptures yesterday with new lights and wiring, new gold plating and a modern computer program.
The cost? $800,000, according to Russ Saito, state comptroller.
"The people of Hawaii deserve to have these light sculptures shine as they did when they were first installed so they can gloriously and symbolically illuminate the legislative process that takes place below them," Saito said in a rededication speech.
"I never saw them do that when we used to come to opening day. I didn't even know they did that," John Kahoonei, a night custodian with the Department of Accounting and General Services, said yesterday afternoon as he watched the Moon change colors. "But we were watching them set it up last night. It was beautiful; I say it is very nice."
The final adjustments to the lights' timing sequences were made this week by Otto Piene, the kinetic sculptor who created the two pieces.
The multicolored displays will be turned off and the sculptures used as lights during legislative sessions, according to Pat Mau-Shimizu, House clerk.
"When the sessions are over, they will again take on the role of representing the spirit and eternal qualities of the state," said Piene, a sculptor, painter, author and former director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.