The Fussy Eye: All Dried Up

Some people roam the city looking for stray animals to shelter and adopt. My mission is to find public artworks that are ignored, neglected, or forgotten. For that reason, I’m on intimate terms with George Tsutakawa (1910–1997), who created so many fountains and other sculptures around Seattle. His golden era was probably the ’60s and ’70s, helped by our city’s one-percent-for-art program. But Seattle has grown and changed since then; buildings get torn down, and new property owners don’t look so kindly on the sellers’ tastes. Tsutakawa fountains have been preserved at our Central Library and Northgate (the latter moving to Northwest Hospital), and now there’s a restoration effort underway at Seattle Central Community College, where Tsutakawa donated a fountain in 1973. Water hasn’t been flowing through the bronze structure for some time; there’s graffiti inside; and now SCCC has a goal to raise $40,000 for its rehabilitation. Thursday’s concert—in the auditorium of the former Broadway High School, which Tsutakawa attended—will benefit the restoration, with classical music from Garfield string quartet the Bach Street Boyz, reggae from Kore Ionz, and jazz from the Deems Tsutakawa Trio (Deems is one of the artist’s sons). Before the show, certainly a worthy cause, walk north a block to the atrium within SCCC’s red-brick brutalist 1970s main building. Filled with students, it’s a loud, bustling, energetic place—part food court, part social space. The dry fountain has a certain lotus/eye aspect, like a half-opened flower; it’s easy to imagine water again spilling out the top and into the pool below. But is it worth it? It would take a huge, floor-to-ceiling water installation to compete with the atrium’s clamor, all scraping chairs and sociable chatter. This is a happy place, full of young people intent not on art but their food, textbooks, and cell phones (though not in that order, of course). The fountain isn’t even in the middle of the atrium, but down next to a crowded walkway—a place to pass, not linger. So if SCCC wants to restore it, great, but to actually rescue the fountain might entail relocating it to a quieter, more contemplative place. Concert: Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, 934-3800, seattlecentral.edu. $25. 7:30 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 27.

 
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