Art Type
Media / Materials
Year Completed
Installed 2012
Commissioned by the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation. Funds were provided by City of Des Moines, James W. Hubbell, Jr and Helen H. Hubbell Charitable Foundation, Trudy and G. David Hurd, Michele and Barry Griswell, Lynette and Kurt Rasmussen, Substance Architecture, and Bravo Greater Des Moines.
Latitude & Longitude
41.586199, -93.617865
Location Description
On the westside of the Des Moines River on the HubSpot Plaza on Water Street and Court Avenue

Five Dangos

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Artist Jun Kaneko is a pioneer in the field of monumental ceramic sculpture. His five ceramic signature dangos (meaning rounded-form or dumpling in Japanese) were dedicated at a public celebration on November 13, 2012.

The artist created this series of five ovular sculptures from 2001-2009. The hand built, ceramic works stand about 7.5 feet in height and resemble vases without openings. Individually, the dangos create a balanced tension between their soft, edgeless forms and layered, painterly surface treatments. Each glazed surface was painted with bold and geometric patterns in black, white and red. Kaneko sees his work as both painting and sculpture, with the key geometric patterns acting as rhythm and tone.

The unique dango form, as well as their expressive patterns and shapes, was carefully selected to be integrated into the infrastructure of the plaza. The project encourages viewers to examine their environment and focus on a sense of scale and place. Jun Kaneko created these works of art to enliven the Riverwalk surroundings and, as the artist says, “shake the air” around them.

Five Dangos

He once wrote of his dango creations, “Whether I’m making a large or small object, in the end I hope it will make sense to have that particular scale and form together and that it will give off enough visual energy to shake the air around it.”

“I spend a lot of time understanding a space, who might use it, what the traffic pattern may be and how that affects the space.” [He conducted a preliminary study for three months studying architectural drawings and tried to do as many site visits as possible.] “You have to consider the space that is given; each space has a unique quality, and I like to try to learn how to make the whole environment.” ...“If there is a 50-story building right next to it versus a green space, that drastically changes my result. I have to collaborate with the environment in this way.”

Jun Kaneko