Jim Gwinner (left) and his installation team with John Buck’s Archer.
Have you noticed anything different about HoMA’s front lawn? On June 3, John Buck’s monumental sculpture Archer (1990) was installed in the space formerly occupied by George Rickey’s towering Two Rectangles Eccentric, which returned to its original home in front of the Prince Kūhiō Federal Building in April of last year. Jim Gwinner, a conservator from Ohio-based McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory, supervised taking apart the sculpture with a mini-crane, trucking it to the museum, setting it up, cleaning and hot waxing it.
Buck was born in Iowa and lives part time in Bozeman, Montana, and on Hawai‛i island. He is well-known for his sculptures made from carved wood and bronze as well as woodblock prints, which critique issues relating to current events, popular culture, and world history. The bronze figure with an archer’s bow stands over 15 feet high. A circular target hovers at the top of the sculpture, directly above a mask-like head, tilted on its side. The work alludes to the ancient, primal act of hunting, and signifies humanity’s close relationship to, and dependence on nature. Buck’s process of bronze casting evidences the raw materials of the original sculpture. The roughly hewn work retains the appearance and textures of carved wood, wood strips, metal wire, nails, and tree branches. The placement and shape of the round target, brings to mind a full moon, and combined with the archer, may reference Artemis, the ancient Greek goddess of the hunt, the moon, and the wilderness. A smaller scale companion piece, titled The Archer (1990), can be found on the Spalding House campus.
Honolulu residents may recognize the towering figure, which, along with a second sculpture by Buck (Smokestack Lightnin’, 1991), flanked the entrance to the Advertiser Building on Kapi‛olani Boulevard through most of the 1990s and early 2000s. Originally created for an outdoor exhibition in San Francisco, and purchased in 1991 for the Advertiser Collection through a San Francisco gallery, Archer was sold in 2004 to a private collector who loaned the work to what was then The Contemporary Museum (currently HoMA, Spalding House), where it stood on the property that housed the administrative offices in the mid-2000s. In 2009, the sculpture was acquired by Dawn and Duncan MacNaughton for their collection, and transferred to HoMA as part of a major gift of artwork in 2018. HoMA is excited to have this major work by an internationally recognized artist with Hawai‛i ties, on permanent public display for the community to enjoy.
John Buck (American, b.1946)
Gift of Dawn and Duncan MacNaughton, 2018 (2018-4-02)