Exhibit explores Japanese-American artist's contributions to city

May 3,2021

Article by the City of Fort Worth

One of Fort Worth’s signature public art spaces is the centerpiece of the Isamu Noguchi Digital Exhibit, available starting May 1 from the Fort Worth Public Library. The virtual experience coincides with Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by celebrating the rich history behind Isamu Noguchi’s “Texas Sculpture.”

Noguchi, a world-renowned Japanese American artist and landscape architect, designed and installed a Zen garden outside the First National Bank of Fort Worth in 1960-61. Part of the garden, which featured large Japanese granite pieces and green schist-quartz rocks, remains at 500 W. 7th Street.

Noguchi’s had other pieces in the area, including “Constellation” on the Kimbell Art Museum’s south lawn. “Texas Sculpture” remains unique for tying Japanese culture with the American southwest, and for some mysterious changes to its makeup nearly a half-century ago.

“Public art not only beautifies a location, but it can also connect people to their surroundings,” said Jennifer Brancato, Senior Librarian – Archivist. “I hope learning more about why and how this piece of art came to be will help people understand the rich history their city holds.

“People will recognize the elements of the sculpture that remain, but many will be surprised to see the sculpture in its original form. There is a bit of mystery surrounding the sculpture, as the green rocks were removed during the 1970s and disappeared.”

While those rocks have yet to be discovered, the virtual exhibit is a step back in 1961 by focusing on the creation of Noguchi’s art through photographs, documents and video. Being online allows more people greater access to experience the history of the sculpture.

The Library is committed to honoring different cultures in a safe space and celebrating the arts in all its forms. The Noguchi Exhibit speaks to anyone interest in art, local history and landscape architecture, as well as the vast contributions of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“The City of Fort Worth has a strong AAPI community that is underrepresented in our city’s story, history and archives,” Brancato said. “The staff of the Genealogy, Local History, and Archives unit at the FWPL strives to collect, preserve and make accessible the whole history of our city.”