If you’ve ever stepped foot in Brattleboro, you have most likely seen, and walked all over one of the most interesting pieces of public art in town. This is not something to feel bad about, since I’m talking about a masterfully chiseled square of granite sidewalk, that sits just out the front door of Boomerang on Elliot Street.
The artists name is Kenichi (Ken) Hiratsuka, and he’s a pretty big deal. His one-line carvings can be seen and experienced in 21 countries around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, Japan, Korea, Italy, Indonesia, Kenya, Finland, Sweden, Mongolia, Turkey…and right beneath your fancy feet here in Bratt.
This installation was connected to the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center’s (BMAC) 2007 exhibition, “From Street to Studio.” The exhibit was showing the work of 5 powerhouse NYC street artists in the ’80s, mostly household names by this point; Jean-Michel Basquiat, Scot Borofsky (Brattleboro), Brian Gormley, Keith Haring, and Ken Hiratsuka. The exhibit led to Hiratsuka carving for Brattleboro its own piece of art history, and one that will hopefully stand the test of time.
The BMAC created a hybrid exhibition catalog and historical document, entitled “Studio in the Street / Street in the Studio,” featuring contextual information and archived work of these 5 artists. (Visit the online version of the catalog Here!)
“Ken Hiratsuka was formally trained as a stone sculptor in the mode of Isamu Noguchi in his native Japan. Upon moving to New York, he was inspired by the early street artists, particularly [Keith] Haring. Though maze-like and abstract, his “one-line” drawings and carvings share with Harings work a strong, sinuous line. In contrast to Keith’s subway drawings, however, Ken’s hand-chiseled carvings, executed on flagstone sidewalks, were as durable as Harings were ephemeral… Other works showcase his obsessive chiseling proficiency and sensitivity to the surface of the rocks, which range from jagged and massive to smooth and undulate. Carefully chosen, Hiratsuka’s carved stones evoke prehistoric rock art and the most ancient forms of abstraction, yet evidence a post-postmodern sculptural sensibility and hard-edged precision.” –Michael Carter, an excerpt from his essay in “Studio in the Street / Street in the Studio”
“I hope that those who see my work will discover new aspects of life, deeper levels of experience of which they may be only dimly aware. I want to inspire people to become more conscious of nature and our common humanity. No matter how lifestyles change, the basic self remains the same. I want to help bring human beings together. In my art there are no social, economic, cultural or political distinctions. We are all one.”
–Ken Hiratsuka, as quoted from his website
Visit Ken’s Website for an impressive chronological and geographical look at his one-line sculptures in stone, and get an idea of what good company we are in by having such a gem here on the streets of Brattleboro!
I, for one, am so thankful for this unique square among all the rest. It’s sort of like a diamond in the rough, and reminds me of how special and unique each and every one of us are, although intrinsically connected- like a shining star in the same sky.