Even though I’m more “no money” than “new money,” I share the latter’s collective love of statuary. When wondering through the city or suburbs I’m pleased by the presence of garden gnomes or bodhisattva or fast food mascots. Nothing churches up a home like a yard full of tiny replicas of Michelangelo‘s David. This being Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I thought it would be fun to compile a directory of public statues created by or depicting Asians and Asian-Americans. Obviously, I’m not going to count every countertop Budai figurine, every shī guarding a warehouse, every temple figure, every tiki bar moai, &c. That being said, I encourage your additions… as long as they’re located in places accessible to the public.
BRUCE LEE (Chinatown)
The two meter-tall bronze statue of actor and martial artist Bruce Lee was donated by the Bruce Lee Foundation. Although born in San Francisco, Lee moved to Los Angeles in the 1960 where he acted on television and operated a martial arts studio in Chinatown. The statue was designed by an anonymous statue in Guangzhou.
BUDDHA WITH A FLOWER (Chinatown)
The state, Buddha with a Flower, is located somewhere in Chinatown’s Central Plaza. I don’t know the artist, date of its dedication, or exact location.
CHIUNE SUGIHARA (Little Tokyo)
Pasadena-based Ramon G. Velazco‘s statue of Chiune Sugihara was dedicated in 2002. Sugihara was a diplomat who during World War II, at no small risk to his family and self, issued transit visas to 6,000 Jews so that they could flee to Japan.
CONFUCIUS (University Hills)
A statue of famed teacher, politician, and philosopher Confucius (孔子) on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles was another gift from the government of Taiwan. It’s located on the school’s Street of the Arts.
HARMONY (Little Tokyo)
Sawako Shintani‘s Harmony (1985) is a large bronze bas-relief depicting a group of abstract figures. Shintani was born in Kobe in 1939 and moved to Los Angeles in 1970. It was formerly located at 332 East Second Street and in 2009 was relocated nearby to Weller Court.
KOREAN COMFORT WOMAN (Glendale)
A statue of a young Korean “Comfort Woman” was unveiled in 2013, commemorating the sexual slavery of many Korean women by the Japanese military during World War II. It was created by artist Bok Lim Kim.
NINOMIYA SONTOKU (Little Tokyo)
Junichiro Hannyo‘s statue of Ninomiya Sontoku (1983) stands in front of Manufacturers Bank. Ninomiya (二宮 尊徳) was a was an agricultural leader, philosopher, moralist and economist known as the “peasant sage” who lived from 1787 – 1856.
SEATED BUDDHA (Chinatown)
The Seated Buddha in Chinatown’s Central Plaza was sculpted by an unknown artist at an unknown date.
SUN YAT-SEN (Chinatown)
The statue of Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) was commissioned by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and dedicated on 12 November 1966 — the birthdate of the famed revolutionary,medical practitioner, and first president of the Republic of China. It was made in Taiwan by an anonymous sculptor.
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in Amoeblog, diaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, Boom: A Journal of California, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Form Follows Function, Los Angeles County Store, Skid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, LAist, Eastsider LA, Boing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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