Skygate's spare aestheticism wasn't appreciated by all when Isamu Noguchi installed the sculpture on the grounds of Honolulu Hale.

‘Skygate’ sole sculpture
by Noguchi in Hawaii

It rises out of the ground near Honolulu Hale, dark and mysterious, like an outline of a pyramid, like a sewer line gone walkabout, like a giant model of a molecule. The matte black finish of the metal is rubbed gleaming near the base, at the height of hands touching it. People can't help but sit beneath it.

It's called "Skygate," one of Honolulu's most visible public art projects, and when it was installed, one of the most notorious.

Created by sculptor Isamu Noguchi, it's playful and momentous at the same time, and Noguchi's spare aestheticism and organic use of shape is also apparent.

Although an artist who traveled the world, Noguchi wound up in an American internment camp during World War II, even though his mother was a white American. The experience shook him so much he turned to surrealism. After the war, he was heavily influenced by Buckminster Fuller's concepts of space and habitat, eventually completing nearly a thousand public sculptures in the course of his life, although "Skygate" is his only Hawaii work. He died in 1988.

The Whitney Museum of American Art recently completed a Noguchi retrospective.

"X Marks the Spot" is a weekly feature documenting historic monuments and sites around Oahu. Send suggestions to xspot@starbulletin.com

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