After being held high and dry in storage since June 2009, the historic George Tsutakawa fountain is dripping again, having been re-installed to the interior of Burien’s main library.
The fountain, previously located outside of the new library/city hall building, was removed last June due to concerns of damage from children who were crawling in and around it.
The original installation of “Rain Fountain No.2,” made of stainless steel, 6-feet high, was in 1972 at the old Burien Library on 4th Ave SW (now the new Community Center), in an inner, protected courtyard.
Since its removal last year, the iconic fountain has been in storage.

The historic Tsutakawa fountain was originally installed in the protected courtyard at the old library.

According to Managing Librarian Marilee Cogswell, water volume for these first few weeks will remain low so that water levels can be tested and adjusted.
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 1950s.
Tsutakawa was awarded many honors throughout his career including the Order of Rising Sun Award, fourth class, from the Emperor of Japan.


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7 replies on “Historic George Tsutakawa Fountain Re-installed At Burien Library”

  1. Before, in a courtyard to the open air, with plant life, installed over tile, looked beautiful. Now inside, in some sci-fi enclosure, surrounded by sterile looking duplicate rocks, looks out of place. This display doesn’t do justice to the art. I was one of the few people who decried the change from the very well thought out large saw blade sculpture outside the library in favor of the broken jungle gym. The arts commission or whoever is overseeing this needs to do some more due diligence, perhaps with local artist input (not public input, democratic art leads to blandness).

  2. I’m glad its protected now. I remember the fountain from when I was a kid in the ’70’s in the old library. Its on my list of places to visit when I return.

  3. to TcB:
    The art at the Burien Library is owned and placed by the King County Library System. The Burien Arts Commission does not have any input on choosing or placing the art there. Thankfully they decided to keep the piece here and not place it at another library.

    1. “The arts commission [-or whoever-] is overseeing this….” I don’t see where I didn’t make my statement clear. It must be directed to the KCLS then. Burien arts is responsible for the beige jungle gym thing that gets tents put under it at farmers markets, right?

  4. oh, and I went in today to get a real look to see if my impression from the photograph was wrong. If you’ve been used to it in the courtyard at the old library, you won’t be impressed. The fountain was NOT working, but there was a little water feature next to the fountain burbling water up from the rocks. It sounded like a broken toilet throughout a good portion of the library. We should complain to KCLS about this.

  5. We need King County Library to put some vegetation in the container with the fountain and around it. That is how the sculptor wanted it.
    Also not a good location for it. Why are they hiding it in a corner?

  6. Shocking. I found these photos of the fountain while doing research on Tsutakawa, and I have to agree with TcB — while the fountain in its first location was absolutely breathtaking, resplendent in a tranquil setting of living greenery and light, the new indoor location is nothing but absolutely depressing. The cage around it and grid-like backdrop echo the fountain’s structure in such a way that they emphasize the industrial aspects of the design over the natural and spiritual, and now it really does look like a shoddy cast-off set piece from a Star Trek episode. Stacy Colombel’s suggestion that “some vegetation [be put] in the container with the fountain” makes it obvious how the mighty sculpture has fallen. Sticking some plants in the pen with it might even make things worse. It is truly heartbreaking to see the two pictures next to each other like that — the shocking impression that stays with me is of a beautiful wild creature in its natural habitat now transported to a cramped concrete enclosure at the zoo. I’m glad that George Tsutakawa didn’t live to see this — he would have wept.

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