Obos by George Tsutakawa


Obos is one of the most prominent fountains on Fulton, standing 13 feet high. Upon its installation in 1964, Tsutakawa told the Fresno Bee that Obos (then unnamed) was “a celestial thing,” and its various elements were meant to suggest “the happy relationship between the heavens, the moon and the sun.” Obos are ritually stacked rock structures, left by pilgrims to celebrate a successful crossing of a high mountain pass. Tsutakawa first read about obos in 1950 in US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas’ book, Beyond the High Himalayas. The rock forms served as inspiration for a series of Tsutakawa’s sculptures, and later for his fountains. The works also show the influence of stone towers and pagodas of Japan, and the vertical stacked image-units of the totem poles of the Pacific Northwest. Obos forms a synthesis of Asian and Western. Aside from the clock tower, Obos was the first piece commissioned for the Fulton Mall. It was unveiled on November 20, 1964, with an event that also featured a concert by the Japan Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra at the Memorial Auditorium.

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Fulton Challenge

Obos was installed in __.

1964 1973 1969

Artist Biography

George Tsutakawa (February 22, 1910 – December 18, 1997) was an American painter and sculptor best known for his avant-garde bronze fountain designs. Born in Seattle, Washington, he was raised in both the United States and Japan. He attended the University of Washington, where, after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he became a teacher. He rose to international prominence as a fountain designer in the 1960s and 1970s. During his long career more than 70 of his distinctive fountains - many of them still extant - were placed in public spaces. He is often associated with the progressive Northwest School of artists and is among the major, influential figures of modern Asian-American art.

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