George Tsutakawa Fountain Temporarily Removed From New Library Due To Damage Concerns

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Thursday (July 2nd), we received the following email from a BTB Reader named Jessica, inquiring about the 1972 George Tsutakawa fountain at the new library, which has been recently removed:


Yesterday I visited the beautiful new Burien library and noticed the fountain in front was missing. I know it made it in the move as I had previously saw it at the new location.

When I asked one of the librarians what had happened to the sculpture she said it is currently in storage but was unsure as to why.

With the community so boisterous about one particular bronze sculpture I can’t imagine why they are not up in arms to protect the lovely G rated George Tsutakawa Fountain.

Is there not enough room in Burien for more than one sculpture?

Or perhaps someone complained about the environmental impact of the base of the sculpture being too small and thus causing a small amount of water to be wasted.

I thought if anyone could get to the bottom of this it would be the B-Town Blog.

Thank you,

So we contacted our “Empress Of Information,” Marilee Cogswell, Manager of the Burien branch, who said:

Yes, it has been removed temporarily – we are looking at alternative sites for it as it was getting a bit too much attention (trash, coins, and climbing) in that space.

It was decided to pull it out and store it before any real damage happened.

We are looking at a couple of inside the building and one outside.

I don’t have a timeline, but will keep you posted.

George Tsutakawa's "Rain Fountain No. 2" used to be inside a protected courtyard.

The original installation of this fountain was in an inner courtyard of the old library, which was protected from human interaction.

The new location was not, hence the concerns and subsequent removal.

When we took the photos early Thursday evening three young boys were playing around in the fountain’s base, empty of everything but rocks.

“I think they moved it ‘cuz kids were playing on it,” said one young man who was literally inside the base when asked what happened. Moments later, he found a coin from under some rocks.

Here’s some info on Tsutakawa from the website Art Market Online:

George Tsutakawa dedicated his life to art and the freedom of expression that it granted him. Tsutakawa worked in a number of media, including paint, bronze, and clay. Born in Seattle in 1910, Tsutakawa went to live with his maternal grandmother in Japan from 1917 to 1927. Upon Tsutakawa’s return to Seattle, he began to study art and help with the family import/export business. His time spent in Japan as a child – especially the traditional tea ceremonies performed by his uncle – inform his work, as did the beauty of the Pacific Northwest region and the art of the Northwest Masters. Tsutakawa attended the University of Washington, and received his MFA in 1950.

In 1960 the City of Seattle commissioned George Tsutakawa to create Fountain of Wisdom, for the Seattle Library; this project was the first art commission by the city of Seattle since 1908. Between 1960 and 1990, the artist designed and created over 60 fountains throughout the United States, Canada, and Japan. He exhibited extensively throughout Japan, the United States and Canada beginning in the 1950’s. Tsutakawa was awarded many honors throughout his career including the Order of Rising Sun Award, fourth class, from the Emperor of Japan.

In 1972, “Rain Fountain No.2,” made of stainless steel, 6′, was installed at the (old) Burien Library on 4th Ave SW.

We’ll keep you posted as this story develops, so check back often. You can also subscribe to our free RSS Feed here, or get the blog via email here.

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5 Responses to “George Tsutakawa Fountain Temporarily Removed From New Library Due To Damage Concerns”
  1. This is sad, I enjoyed photographing this fountain whenever I visit the new Town Square. I was disappointed when I noticed it missing today while at the Farmers Market.

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  2. warren says:

    If the old library is to be the new community center, maybe the fountain could go back to its previous location where it was protected. Before the library moved I was wondering if it was going to be incorporated into the new space. I was glad to see it made the move, but thought its display seemed like an after thought. Then it was gone. This is the most important piece of art in Burien, it needs to be displayed and protected.

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  3. Maxine says:

    warren, I couldn’t agree more. I was stunned when I went to the Town Square grand opening and discovered that they had placed the fountain not only outside where it wasn’t protected, but in such an inauspicious place where it wasn’t sited well for a work of this significance.

    With the current problems of metal thefts, I figured someone would steal and sell it for scap if it was left outside. To lose this incredible work would be a travisty because not only is financially valuable, but also culturally. Tsutakawa fountains are quite rare with only about 70 of them worldwide.

    I am glad that the King County Library and City finally figured out that it was an error to have it outside and unprotected. My hope is that they decide to move it back to the old library where it was beautifully and appropriately sited in the courtyard garden and also protected.

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  4. warrenb says:

    Where is the George Tsutakawa fountain? Burien was lucky to have a piece by such an historically important artist. With the end of the BIAS’s run, now more than ever we need public art. I cannot emphisise this enough, THIS IS THE REAL THING! Its not rebar, its not nude, and it does not require interpatation by out of work collge professors. Its just beautifull and tranquil. Instead of hiding in some warehouse, we need to securely display this piece, and let all citizens and visitors to Burien enjoy the artistry of Mr. Tsutakawa.

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  5. Inga says:

    I also wondered what happened to it. I am glad I took a picture of it before it was removed.

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