HiSAM’s Sculpture Garden Reopened With a New Fanciful Sculpture by May Izumi
Say hello to Mr. Chickenpants.
Editor’s Note: Through our partnership with the Hawai‘i State Art Museum, HONOLULU Magazine publishes a monthly blog written by Lisa Shiroma, owner of the HiSAM Museum Gallery Shop.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Brandyn Liu
Who is Mr. Chickenpants? The 12-foot-tall sculpture by May Izumi is the friendly new face of the Hawai‘i State Art Museum.
With the upper body of a foxlike creature and the lower half of a chicken, Mr. Chickenpants welcomes guests to HiSAM’s sculpture garden with outstretched arms. The shells balanced on its head were inspired by old-fashioned games of chance, Izumi says. Mr. Chickenpants stems from a Hawaiian legend called Puapualenalena, about a magical dog that could change shape and size. Izumi decided to base her sculpture on this mischievous creature after being commissioned by the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. In the legend, the loyal pet of an old man would use his shape-shifting powers to provide his master with his favorite ‘awa.
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF PAUL Kodama
Created specifically for HiSAM’s Sculpture Garden, Mr. C began as a small maquette. The maquette then traveled to Artworks Foundry, a bronze foundry in Berkeley, California, where a scaled-up mold was produced. Like other bronze masterpieces, such as Rodin’s “The Thinker,” Mr. C’s mold went through the traditional sculpture method of lost wax casting. After molten bronze filled the mold and cooled, the encasing was cracked open and the sculpture was cleaned, polished and painted to bring it to life. This large version came back to Hawai‘i by boat, then was lifted carefully by crane from HiSAM’s back parking lot over the wall and into the garden.
Izumi says that the scaling up of her sculpture was “very scary and surreal! I was really anxious because things that might look fine on a small scale can sometimes look terrible when scaled up.” Upon seeing the 12-foot version, she said, “Not to say that he is perfect, rather he looks like himself even though he’s now a giant.”
On Aug. 2, Mr. Chickenpants was given an official state dedication ceremony and blessing, complete with custom giant lei, Hawai‘i Opera Theatre singers and a feast in his honor. The gallery shop also carries Mr. Chickenpants merchandise created by Izumi.
isa Shiroma is the owner of the HiSAM Museum Gallery Shop and runs it with partners Aly Ishikuni-Sasaki and Travis Sasaki from Mori by Art + Flea.
Lisa worked as gallery manager for Koa Art Gallery at KCC from 2014 to 2017.
In July 2017, Lisa, Travis and Aly renovated and reopened the Hawai‘i State Art Museum’s gift shop space as a new art gallery and gift shop “for Hawai‘i artists, by Hawai‘i artists.”