スペシャルインタビュー

五十嵐 威暢

Special Interview IGARASHI Takenobu

(English)

五十嵐  威暢

IGARASHI Takenobu

彫刻家。1944年、北海道生まれ。1968年多摩美術大学卒業後、カリフォルニア大学ロサンゼルス校大学院修士課程修了。1994年以降、ロサンゼルスを本拠に彫刻制作。2004年帰国し、日本各地の公共空間に彫刻やレリーフを制作している。2011年〜2015年まで多摩美術大学学長。NPOアートチャレンジ滝川理事長。その作品はニューヨーク近代美術館をはじめ世界の美術館で所蔵されている。

 

「1%フォー・アート」を日本に

Japan Needs a One-Percent-for-Art Program

 

外国で「パーセント・フォー・アート」制度

使ってパブリックアートの制作に携わった

日本のアーティストたちは、

どのようにこの制度を受け止めているのだろうか。

多摩美術大学の前学長、五十嵐威暢氏にお話を伺った。

*1

*1:

「パーセント・フォー・アート」 公共事業の実施に際し、建設工事費のある一定の範囲内で芸術作品を設置するという考え方。何パーセントかは国や地域により一率ではない。

五十嵐先生は米国でパブリックアートの制作に携わられました。

五十嵐 米国では1950年代始めにパブリックアートの機運が生まれました。やがてニューヨークのマンハッタンに抽象彫刻が出現するのですが、最初はトニー・ローゼンタール(*2)の彫刻作品で、次にイサム・ノグチ(*3)の「レッド・キューブ」という穴の空いた真っ赤な立方体作品が置かれました。私は1968年に留学した時に見る機会がありました。都市を元気づけ、都市空間の中にアーティスティックな景観を作る役割を果たしてきたのがパブリックアートです。トニーの黒いキューブの彫刻は米国で永久保存に指定された最初の抽象彫刻だと思います。

*2:

トニー・ローゼンタール(Tony Rosenthal、1914年~2009年) 米国の彫刻家 シカゴ芸術学院で彫刻を学ぶ。公共空間に置くキューブなど抽象的な彫刻を多数制作し、「パブリックアートの伝説的人物」と呼ばれる。

*3:

イサム・ノグチ(1904年~1988年) 米国の彫刻家、画家、インテリアデザイナー、造園家、舞台芸術家。父が日本人、母が米国人。

*4:

村上 隆(むらかみ たかし、1962年~ ) 日本の現代美術家、ポップアーティスト、映画監督。アニメをポップ調で表現した作品などで外国で人気が高い。

 

*5:

アニッシュ・カプーア(Anish Kapoor、1954年~) インド出身の現代彫刻家。シンプルな立体ながら、金属や光を吸収する染料を使って視覚に強く訴える作品で知られ、パブリックアートも数多く制作している。

パブリックアートが芸術家やアーティストに及ぼしているメリットは何ですか。

五十嵐 パブリックアートは欧州で始まり、米国に広がりました。公共建築費の一定割合をパブリックアートに割くのですが、米国では最初は0.5%だったと思います。そこで生まれる芸術家の仕事量は、美術館の買い上げや、ギャラリーが作品を販売するのとはまったく異なるレベルです。とくに若いアーティストたちを助け、支援する意味で大きな力が生まれる、しかもそこからアーティストたちがチャンスを得て育っていく。その波及効果は計り知れないものがあると思います。

 

 米国のパブリックアートにはどのような作品があるのですか。

五十嵐 日本だと美術系アートと狭く考えがちですが、米国ではポスターなどのデザインや、コンサートや舞台芸術のパフォーマンスまであり、実に幅広い。私はロサンゼルスの大地震で壊れた橋の建て替えで、鉄の橋の欄干をコンクリートの彫刻で作る企画を提案して採用されました。本来だと橋作りはエンジニアだけで出来る。しかしパブリックアートのため公共工事費の1%枠を芸術やアートに割きますから、さまざまな分野のアーティストが橋作りに参画し、橋一つでもいろいろなアイデアが出てきます。

 

単に橋を作ればいいというのではないのですね。

五十嵐 面白いのはエンジニアとアーティストの立場が逆転するのです。「こういうアートを可能にする橋のエンジニアリングを考えてください」と。もちろん素人考えの案もあって、「こんなものはあり得ないよね」というものは審査で外される。しかしエンジニアではない立場からの提案によって可能性が広がります。

 もう一つ私が担当したのがサンフランシスコの病院でした。高齢者のターミナルケア(終末期医療)を兼ねた病院を新しく3棟を建てるというので、私を含め選ばれた7人のアーティストが2フロアずつ受け持って作品を作りました。私は素焼きのテラコッタのレリーフや、木や陶でランドマーク的な作品を5点ぐらい。それと病院の屋上の、日本でいえば坪庭を大きくしたようなコートヤードに、金属で作った花や花びらを吊るし、空中を飛んでいるような彫刻を作りました。

 

どのようにしてアーティストは選ばれるのですか。

五十嵐 日本と大きく違うのは長いスパンでプロジェクトの取り組みを考えていることです。ロスの橋でいうと80の橋を16年かけて架け替えていきました。「今年はこの地区の橋5つを架け替えるので、興味ある人は橋に対する思いと、過去の作品のポートフォリオを出してください」と募集が行われます。応募者の中から声をかけられたアーティストは提案書を作り、プレゼンテーションをする。最終審査は地元代表、パブリックアートの責任者、建築家など4人構成の委員会で審査します。朝から午後にかけてプレゼンを受け、次の日に発表という短いスケジュールなので、誰も介入する暇もなく、すごくフェアな体制です。またこの時は落ちても、16年続くプロジェクトなので、声がかかる可能性は十分にあります。

 

橋と病院以外に米国でかかわられたパブリックアートはありますか。

五十嵐 決まりかけたのが、アニマル・シェルター(捨てられた動物を保護する施設)と消防署のパブリックアートです。アニマル・シェルターでは動物を模したベンチを点在させるアイデアを提案し、消防署では水を武器に戦っている人に、水で癒される場を提供してはと思い、湧き水のような噴水の庭を提案しました。これは審査員がすごく気に入ってくれたのですが、私が日本に戻ることになり実現しませんでした。

 

日本のアーティストの現状をどのようにご覧になっていますか。

五十嵐 どうやって生活しているのかなと思うほど大変です。美術界にはおカネがない。企業はアートどころでない。もしパブリックアートのための1%フォー・アートが制度化されれば若いアーティストにチャンスとなり、アーティストの裾野を広げます。また単なる美術系アートにとどまらず、デザイン、工芸、演劇、パフォーマンスという分野をパブリックアートの対象にしたら、実に幅広いアーティストを支援することになります。

 

日本のアーティストに足りないと思われるものは何でしょう。

五十嵐 アーティストを売り込むコミュニケーション能力です。日本がアーティストとその作品を売り込む力をインフラとして持っていたら、英国のようにアーティストを超一流にして国を挙げて支援することになる。どうして資源のない日本がやらないのか。実現すればすごい外貨獲得源となるでしょう。日本ではアートをビジネスやおカネに絡ませるのはピュアじゃないと頭からはねつけるけど、たとえば村上隆(*4)のパブリックアートが日本のどこにもないというのは信じられない話です。彼は人を集められ、外貨を獲得できる、日本で唯一と言っていいアーティストです。好き嫌いでなく、世界中にファンがいるのに、当の日本が何もしないというのは信じられない。15、6年前、アニッシュ・カプーア(*5)の大展覧会にロンドンでたまたま遭遇しました。英国を挙げて応援し、テレビコマーシャルも打たれ、最終日には大行列ができました。新しいアーティストの誕生といった趣でした。作品もすばらしかった。数年前にはシカゴの市街地に彼のステンレス製の大作が置かれましたが、製作費が巨額で日本とレベルが違いすぎる。村上さんに会ったことはないが、歯がゆいだろうなと。

インタビューを終えて

 

五十嵐氏は長年米国で暮らした経験から、より客観的に、かつフェアに日本の文化状況をとらえている。その目からすると、なんとも歯がゆく感じることが多いようだ。一つは、アーティストを育てていこうという風土の欠如だ。若いアーティストに創作の機会を広く与えるという点で「1%フォー・アート」は格好の制度だが、世界第3位の経済大国がまだこれを実現しておらず、韓国、台湾の後塵を拝している現実に歯がゆさがある。もう一つは、国を挙げて日本の文化芸術を世界に売り込む戦略の欠如だ。五十嵐氏は村上隆氏のような世界的に著名なアーティストを日本が生かしきれてないことを一つの事例に挙げる。村上氏の作品に対して日本の一部に批判があるが、五十嵐氏は「好き嫌いを言ったら、誰も好き嫌いはある。しかしそういう判断基準はおかしい」と指摘する。人気あるものは人気あるものとしてフェアに評価すべきだと言うのだ。「村上氏のパブリックアートが日本のどこにもないというのは信じられない」とも。名実共に文化国家と言われるようになるために日本が取り組まなければならないことはまだまだ多いとインタビューで感じた。(日本交通文化協会事務局長 西川恵)

アジアでパーセント・フォーアートを制度化しているのは韓国と台湾ですが、五十嵐先生は台湾でもパブリックアートを制作されましたか。

五十嵐 日本のアートコンサルタント会社が台湾のコンペに参加してくれないかと声をかけてくれたのがきっかけです。台北の副都心にある政府合同庁舎の玄関ホールにパブリックアートを設置するというので、正面の壁に飾る陶彫刻を提案しました。大変なコンペで、企画書は40ページ以上、マケットは1立方平方メートルのものを実際に使うマテリアルで作ってください、と。最終審査は人気投票で行われ、私の作品に決まりましたが、台湾の大事なプロジェクトに日本人を選ぶというのは大変なことだと思います。

Japan needs a One-Percent-for-Art Program

How do Japanese artists, who were involved with the creation of public art through Percent-for-Art Program(*1) abroad, feel about this program?

We interviewed IGARASHI Takenobu, the former president of Tama Art University, to hear his thoughts.

IGARASHI Takenobu

Sculptor. 1944, born in Hokkaido, northern part of Japan. 1968, graduated Tama Art University , then studied at University of California Los Angeles graduate school. 1994, he moved from Japan to Los Angeles. 2004, returned to Japan and his artworks of sculptures and ceramic reliefs are displayed all over Japan. From 2011 to 2015 president of Tama Art University, actually president of NPO Art Challenge Takigawa. His artworks are collected in many museums as MOMA.

 

*1:

Percent-for-Art

An idea whereby artistic work is installed within a certain range of the construction cost when implementing public works. What percent of the cost is allocated is not uniform across countries or districts.

*2

Tony Rosenthal (1914-2009)

An American sculptor. He studied sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. He created many abstract sculptures such as cubes installed in public spaces and is regarded as a legendary figure in public art.

 

*3

Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988)

An American sculptor, painter, interior designer, landscape architect, and stage designer. His farther was Japanese and his mother was American.

*4

Takashi Murakami (1962- )

A Japanese modern artist, pop artist, and film director. He is popular abroad for his work of anime he expresses in a popish style.

 

*5

Anish Kapoor (1954- )

An Indian modern sculptor. He is known for his simple cubic works, which strongly appeal to people’s eyes with a use of paint that absorbs metal and light. He also creates many works of public art.

Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy.
Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.

After the interview

Based on his experience of living in the US for a long time, Igarashi perceives the cultural situation in Japan with a more objective as well as fair view. From his point of view, it seems there are many things that make him feel frustrated. One example is that there lacks a culture to grow artists. One-Percent-for-Art is an excellent program as a means to widely provide young artists with opportunity to create art, but Japan as the third economic power has not yet realized it, an irritating fact of falling behind Korea and Taiwan. Another is a lack of strategy at national level to market Japanese culture and arts to the world. Igarashi talks about a case whereby Japan is not fully taking advantage of world-renown artists such as Takashi Murakami. There are some criticism against Murakami’s works in Japan, but Igarashi points out; “If we starts talking about likes and dislikes, anyone has likes and dislikes. However, it does not make sense to have such criteria for judgment.” He says anything popular should deserve a fair treatment. He even states; “It is just unbelievable that Murkami’s public art cannot be found anywhere in Japan.”

I felt there are still many things Japan needs to tackle in order to be called as a cultured nation both in name and in reality.

 (Megumi Nishikawa, Director-General, Japan Traffic Culture Association)

Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy.
Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.
Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy.
Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.
Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy.
Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.
Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy.
Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.
Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy.
Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.
Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy. Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.
Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy.
Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.
Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy.
Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.
Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy.
Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.
Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved.
Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy. Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.

Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy. Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.

Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy. Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.

Q:You were involved with the creation of public art in the US. Igarashi: In the US, the momentum for public art started in early 1950s. There soon appeared abstract sculptures in Manhattan, New York, initially with work of Tony Rosenthal (*2), followed by Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi(*3), a bright red cube work with a hole. I had a chance to see these works in1968 when I went to study in the US. Public art has a role to vitalize cities, creating an artistic landscape in urban spaces. I think Tony’s black cube sculpture is the very first abstract sculpture that was designated to be permanently preserved. Q:What benefits can public art bring to artists? Igarashi: Public art started in Europe, expanding then to the US. Certain percentage of the public construction cost is allocated to public art and in case of the US, I think it was initially 0.5%. The amount of work created for artists this way is totally different from procurement in museums or sales of art works by galleries. It creates a great power especially to support and help young artists. Also, artists can gain opportunities and grow from there. I think such a spillover effect is immense. Q:What kind of public art can we find in the US? Igarashi: In Japan, we tend to narrowly define public art to be fine art, but in the US, it actually covers a very wide range of genres, such as design for posters, concerts, and stage performances. I made a proposal to create balustrade with concrete sculptures to rebuild an iron bridge that was destroyed by a big earthquake in LA and was accepted. In normal circumstances, bridge-building can be done by engineers only. However, since one percent of the public construction cost is allocated to arts to create public art, artists from various genres participate in the bridge-building and there are many different ideas expressed around a bridge itself. Q:It is not only about building a bridge, is it? Igarashi: What is interesting is that the position of engineers and artists get reversed. It’s like this; “Please think of a bridge engineering that enables this sort of art.” Of course, there are layman ideas that get rejected for being unrealistic during the selection process. However, possibilities expand with proposals from those with non-engineering background. Another public art I got involved was for a hospital in San Francisco. It was to build three new building blocks that combined end-of-life care for the elderly. Seven artists including myself were selected and each had two floors to work on. I created unglazed terra-cotta reliefs as well as about five landmark works with wood and ceramics. Additionally, for their rooftop courtyard, which was something like a Japanese spot garden but bigger, I created hanging sculptures with metal flowers and petals, presenting them as if they were flying in the air. Q:How do artists get selected? Igarashi: The big difference from Japan is that they consider projects to be long term. In case of bridges in LA, 80 bridges have been rebuilt over the course of 16 years. The application requirements are announced like this; “This year, five bridges in this district will be rebuilt. Anyone who has interest should submit his/her thoughts and past portfolios.” Of all the applicants, selected artists make proposals and presentations. In the final round, a committee that is comprised of four members from local representative, person in charge of public art, and architects makes the judgment. Since presentation request is received sometime between morning and afternoon and the actual presentation is done on the following day, it is a very fair system whereby the overall process is short, leaving no room for anyone else to step in. Also, even if you don’t get selected then, there still is another chance for you to be selected, as the project lasts for 16 years. Q: Besides the bridge and the hospital, was there any other public art project you got involved in the US? Igarashi: What was almost finalized were public art for animal shelter (an establishment where abandoned animals are sheltered) and for fire department. For the animal shelter, I made a proposal to scatter animal-shaped benches. For the fire department, I proposed a garden with springwater-like fountains to provide a healing space to firefighters who fight with water. They were well received by the judges, but didn’t get realized as I had to come back to Japan. Q: How do you see the current state of artists in Japan? Igarashi: A very tough situation that makes me wonder how they make a living. There is no money in the art world. Corporations are far from supporting arts. If One-Percent-for-Art gets institutionalized for public art, it would provide great opportunities for young artists and broaden artist base. Additionally, if public art covers not only mere fine art, but also genres such as design, crafts, plays and performances, it would mean it supports a very wide range of artists. Q:What do you think is missing from artists in Japan? Igarashi: Communication skills to market artists. If Japan had skills to market artists and their works as its infrastructure, it would be like the UK where artists are treated as topnotch and supported at national level. I wonder why Japan, a country with no resources, doesn’t do the same. If Japan can do that, it would be a great source of foreign currencies. In Japan, the idea to link art to money and business is flatly rejected, but it is actually unbelievable that there is no public art by Takashi Murakami(*4) anywhere in Japan. He is probably a sole Japanese artist who can attract people and collect foreign currencies. It’s not about likes and dislikes. He has fans all over the world, so I just cannot believe that Japan does nothing for him. About 15-16 years ago, I happened to see a big exhibition of Anish Kapoor(*5) in London. There was a nationwide promotion as well as TV commercials, and on the last day, there was a long line at the exhibition. The atmosphere was like celebrating the birth of a new great artist. Kapoor’s works were excellent, too. Some years ago, his giant stainless work was installed in urban area of Chicago with an enormous cost, showing a big difference from Japan’s approach. I’ve never met Mr. Muarakami, but I bet he is not very happy. Q:In Asia, “percent-for-art” is institutionalized in Korea and in Taiwan. Have you created any public art in Taiwan, too? Igarashi: The opportunity came when a Japanese art consulting firm contacted me and asked if I could join them for a competition in Taiwan. It was for installing a public art in the entrance hall of a government office complex in sub-center of Taipei, so I proposed a ceramic sculpture to decorate the front wall. It was a big competition with the proposal spanning over 40 pages and maquette had to be made in one cubic meter with actual materials. The final judgment was made with popularity vote and my work was selected. I think it is very significant that they selected a Japanese for a big project in Taiwan.