COURTESY OF JAPANESE CULTURAL CENTER OF HAWAII
"Orbit-Heart," made of wood, aluminum and stainless steel, stands 13 inches tall.
Art in motion
UH professor Mamoru Sato exhibits his most recent kinetic sculptures at the Japanese Cultural Center
Surrounded by the grandeur of nature, of wheat fields and sand dunes and snow-topped mountains, Colorado native Mamoru Sato found enough inspiration to last a lifetime as an artist and a teacher.
"I was always fascinated by the motion of the wind going through the wheat fields," he says. "It has a soothing, soft quality that's just beautiful."
'More of Mo'
Sculpture by Mamoru Sato:
» On exhibit: Saturday through July 11; reception 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday
» Place: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, 2454 S. Beretania St.
» Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays
» Call: 945-7633 or visit jcch.com
» Also: The artist will give an overview of the exhibit, 10:30 a.m. June 28, free.
Sato, who's been a sculpture professor at the University of Hawaii-Manoa since 1965, is exhibiting his recent work at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii in "More of Mo: Sculpture by Mamoru Sato," opening Saturday. The show will feature some 15 pieces made of practical materials such as PVC and aluminum, and many of which, reflective of Sato's lifelong fascination with air, are set into motion by wind.
At UH, Sato serves as associate chairman of the Department of Art and Art History, with its more than 600 undergraduate and graduate students.
Teaching art is a worthwhile endeavor, Sato says, because art allows students to experience life rather than just intellectualize about it.
"The best part of the job is (when) I'm helping people achieve what they're trying to achieve. Some of the students are just fantastic -- all they need is a little push."
Sato says he spends three-quarters of his time wearing his teacher hat and the other quarter producing art. But rather than compromise his work, he says time spent with students actually feeds his creative output.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The blades of one of Mamoru Sato's sculptures rotate in the breeze outside his office in the University of Hawaii-Manoa Art Department. An exhibit of Sato's most recent work, which he describes as his "reaction to the natural and man-made environment," opens Saturday.
"A lot of my energy comes from the students. I'm always around young people and I feed off of them. I get the energy to create from them."
Sato's commissioned pieces for the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts can be seen in such places as Honolulu International Airport, Maunawili Elementary School, Rev. Benjamin Parker Elementary School and the Kona State Office Building. Another of his legacies is the International Shoebox Sculpture Competition, which he helped create with UH colleagues. The exhibition, which is held every three years and travels across the globe, is an invitational that features miniature art by well-known international artists.
But Lisa Yoshihara, director of the University of Hawaii Art Gallery and a former student of Sato's, says that by far his greatest impact has been in teaching. "A significant amount of students have passed through during his years here," she says. "He's had an influence on so many students."
Sato says his original plan was to stay at UH for two or three years. Though his plan was altered somewhat -- it's been 42 years -- he says his life has turned out to be "very nice."
"The best part of being an artist is getting to do whatever I want to do. I don't have to rely on my art to make a living, thanks to this job. So I have great freedom," he says. "Life is good."