Biographical / Historical
George Tsutakawa (1910-1997) was a Japanese American sculptor, painter, and teacher who primarily worked in Seattle, Washington. Tsutakawa was born in Seattle, but he was educated and raised in Japan from 1917 to 1927. Upon his return to Seattle, he enrolled in high school and later attended the University of Washington School of Art (1932-1937), where he majored in sculpture.
During World War II, his family was sent to the Japanese American incarceration camps, while Tsutakawa served in the U.S. Army from 1941-1945. After the war, he returned to Seattle and in 1947 he married his wife Ayame, whom he had met at one of the Japanese incarceration camps he visited in order to see and help family members during the war. That same year, Tsutakawa also started teaching at the University of Washington, where he resumed his studies and got his M.F.A. in 1950.
From the late 1950s through 1970s, Tsutakawa rose to prominence for his designs of fountains, usually made from bronze or welded steel. Over the course of his career, he designed fountains for roughly 80 commissions across the United States and Japan. During this time, he continued to teach at the University of Washington until his retirement in 1976. He died in Seattle in 1997.