Historic Tsutakawa fountain to be restored thanks to campus effort

George Tsutakawa’s “Fountain” has stood as an impressive link to Seattle Central’s past since its installation by the renowned artist in 1973. In recent years, the fountain, located in the Atrium, has fallen into disrepair. But plans are in the works to restore this piece of art to its original glory, so it can continue to remind people of the community’s struggle for social justice.

Between 1902 and 1942, scores of Japanese American students attended Broadway High School (the future site of Seattle Central College); among them was sculptor George Tsutakawa. In 1942, around 200 Japanese-American students at the school (over a quarter of the student body) were removed from classrooms, joining their families and many others as part of the U.S. government’s internment process during World War II.

Three decades later, at the height of grassroots equality movements in the 1970’s, George crafted “Fountain” to serve as a reminder of our institution’s past. The sculpture’s importance as a cultural landmark is amplified by its presence at Seattle Central College, evoking resonance with the history of both its location and its creator.In fall 2012, faculty, staff and students formed a committee to raise funds to restore the piece. To date, their effort has raised $30,500, and the committee hopes to work with Student Leadership to secure additional funds to meet their target.

Meanwhile, restoration efforts are already underway. Over the recent holiday break, Gerry Tsutakawa, artist, sculptor and son of George, worked many hours removing mineral deposits to clean the original surface. Additionally, a new and efficient pump and filter system will be installed soon. By this spring, the fountain should be operational for the first time in many years.