David Harber’s “Dark Planet”: The Meaning of art at Liberty Center, Ohio

I have a special relationship with a David Harber sculpture at Liberty Center next to the upstairs portion of the Kona Grill.  When I get time during mid-day it is not uncommon for me to go there to read.  I love the way the designers of Liberty Center created a reverse spiral leading up to the sculpture hidden by evergreens.  In the center there is revealed rather majestically a large planetary shape of smooth rocks placed together to form a very unique sculpture.  It is called “Dark Planet” and it is but one of the many Harber sculptures featured at the high-end shopping complex known as Liberty Center located in Liberty Township, Ohio.  I have been intrigued by the many Harber sculptures located around the property and people who visit are lucky to have them.  The sculptures bring with them a sophistication that is quite appropriate to our times and I find them fascinating—immensely.  The Steiner Group was very wise to feature them so boldly.

I happened to be at the Kona Grill during a fabulous late spring evening where the sun set behind the luxury Marriott across the courtyard and I had a full view of several of these Harber sculptures.  The restaurant had the patio walls all pulled up to enjoy the outside air and everything was just fabulous, the food, the atmosphere and the company.  But my thoughts were on a rather intense project that I’m working on, something that is bigger than anything that I know that literature has ever created.  Yet I’m working out the details moment by moment and that was heavy on my mind while dining at the Kona Grill and looking across the bar at the Harber sculptures.

It was late at night when I left but I had to take the moment to see my favorite sculpture, the “Dark Planet” just upstairs, so I proceeded through the dining room to the stairs which take guests to the upper level and dodged servers coming and going with sushi to guests enjoying the open air on the upper floor.  The blue sophisticated glow of the bar shown against the faces of the many guests enjoying the NBA playoffs over drinks and fine food as the stars looked on from above, but my target was just a few steps to the east of that fenced off area.   The vegetation had grown full now that winter was over and the “Dark Planet” was hard to see until the long spirally path was walked, which I did, only to come upon the sculpture looking like a planet coming apart from inside before molten lava exploded it into some other form.

Not to give anything away too far in advance, but since I have learned about a rogue planet coming and going through our solar system every tens of thousands of years apparently creating havoc each time it swings in between Mars and Jupiter before shooting back around our sun for the cold space beyond—I have been mildly obsessed with the concept and that David Harber sculpture makes me think about it constantly.  I had been wondering if the Harber sculptures were formed by some secret society of Illuminati maniacs who knew well about such things hidden from the masses.  I was a little relieved to discover that David Harber was just an artist—not necessarily a cosmic doomsayer complete with hidden knowledge.  After a little investigation from his website I found this curious quote about him.

With a deep appreciation of the cosmos, David is inspired by the night sky as well as appreciating it as a means to escape life’s hectic pace. Harber’s keen interest in astronomy and the stars allows him to bring celestial mechanics to life, capturing the passage of time and space

It was a serendipitous event for David to find, a few years ago, that he was a direct descendant of the Elizabethan mathematician and scientific instrument maker John Blagrave, and that this historic figure lived most of his life some twenty miles from Harber’s workshop in Oxfordshire


It’s not the purpose of art to define itself, but to evoke thought—which for me Harber’s work does.  Just a few nights prior to my visit to Kona Grill, my wife and I were in our hot tub looking up at the stars as the moon wasn’t yet up over the horizon and again I was working out the sheer majesty of my literary project—the scope of which involved that “Dark Planet” hidden out there coming back toward us between Mars and Jupiter which I could see clearly above my head.  I couldn’t help but think of the cataclysmic consequences of that occurrence.  The tides on earth would become very violent, probably flooding the entire world with the awesome gravity pull of such a cosmic event, in much the way that the moon makes our tides on earth roll in and out. A planet the size of Neptune suddenly arriving so close to earth would have a major impact depending on the nature of the elliptical orbits.  For me, the Harber “Dark Planet” sculpture represents the hidden monstrosity and fact of life looming large, unseen in the night sky—until it’s too late.

But with destruction also comes rebirth and such things aren’t necessarily bad unless you are madly in love with the way things are.  We live in a world of constant change, yet that which is immortal in us all steps beyond such concerns of trees, oceans, and flowers.  Earth will be destroyed probably many times over as that “Dark Planet” roars throughout solar system constantly wiping the slate clean for us to continuously reemerge as a civilization time and time again.  It’s not the rocks and bones we take with us, it’s the ideas we generate through our lives and the impact that has on the cosmos.  We are not meant to sit forever looking up at the stars waiting for them to pass judgment on us.  We are meant to go into those heavens and to conquer them into our own imaginative impulses and to ride that “Dark Planet” the way a cowboy rides a bucking bull.  We are meant to make the universe into our own image. Thus spoke Cliffhanger.

If you have not stopped by Liberty Center to appreciate the work of David Harber—you should. The “Dark Planet” is obviously my favorite.  But a very close second is his “Torus” which is like a wormhole through time and space.  It sits right outside of the Kona Grill in front of the Cinebistro movie theater and is worth a visit by itself.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman


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