Sculptor's works grace many isles' public spaces


POSTED: Monday, May 17, 2010

Noted sculptor and watercolorist Ken Shutt, whose work is seen at schools, hotels and public buildings across Hawaii, died April 2 in Atascadero, Calif., after a long illness. He was 81.

Shutt was born in Long Beach, Calif., and grew up in Whittier. He graduated from Pasadena City College, the Art Center College of Design and the Chouinard Art Institute in California.

He won art commissions from countries around the world, but Hawaii “;captured his heart,”; said his widow, Pat.

Shutt brought his family here from California in 1963, when Taylor “;Tap”; Pryor commissioned him to create a bronze sculpture for the entrance of Sea Life Park.

Among his other commissioned sculptures in Hawaii were “;Three Porpoises”; at the Honolulu Zoo; “;Birds in Flight”; at American Savings Bank (then known as the Pan Am Building); “;Celebrating the Arts,”; a granite and bronze work for Kauai Community College; “;Three Wahines,”; Four Seasons Resort Wailea, Maui; “;Celebration of Marriage,”; a bronze with outstretched arms for the Grand Wailea Hotel, Maui; and “;Heritage Growing”; at Laupahoehoe School on Hawaii.

His series of 40 dramatically lit, botanic-themed cast resin panels on columns support the open pavilion roof of the Hilton Hawaiian Village entrance.

Shutt returned to California in 1995 to be near the foundry casting his bronze edition sculptures—still shown at the NaPua Gallery on Maui.

“;His death is a big loss to the Hawaii art community,”; said Ron Yamakawa, executive director of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. “;He was well respected and was a great help to me personally in my career here.”;

Hawaii architect Donald W.Y. Goo said, “;Ken's art legacy in Hawaii will be remembered as icons of Hawaiian imagery and legend. Much of his later work featured fanciful figures as nymphs.”;

Goo said Shutt conducted extensive research before beginning work.

His pieces were featured in a one-man show in 1974 at the Contemporary Arts Center of Hawaii.

Former Star-Bulletin reporter Tomi Knaefler described a soaring wood sculpture entitled “;Sky Sailor”; as “;uncommonly bold, raw and fresh.”;

A sculpture called “;Living Circle,”; she said, “;gloriously merges the male and female figure in a graceful circle of epoxy resin with a smudge of bronze powder.”;

Shutt chose materials such as redwood, koa, spruce, epoxy resin and steel for their ability to weather and become more handsome over time.

Shutt was a former president of the Hawaii Watercolor Society. His work has been shown in group exhibits of the Watercolor and Serigraph Society, Artists of Hawaii and the Easter Art Festival in Honolulu.

He is listed in “;Who's Who in American Art, 1976, and Beyond,”; and his work appears in the Art Inventories Catalog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

He is also survived by sons Gregory of Honolulu and Christopher of Kau, Hawaii; and grandsons Matthew and Trinidad, both of Honolulu.

Shutt's ashes were returned to Kaneohe for a private scattering and celebration of life. No services were held at his request.

Donations may be made in his memory to the Hawaii State Art Museum.