King County Administration Building
A mostly hidden piece of nature inspires a graceful abstract sculpture.
The undulating form of this abstract, stainless steel sculpture by internationally recognized artist George Tsutakawa resembles a burrowing sandworm, the large marine animal whose casings can be found on the beach at low tide, but is rarely seen unless dug out of the sand. Refined, fluid, spare, and balanced, it showcases many of the characteristics that define Tsutakawa’s work.Sandworm was originally sited at a children’s play area at Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island, but the work was re-sited at the King County Administration Building and rededicated in 1998. It was commissioned as part of the Honors Program, which recognizes visual artists who have made significant contributions to our region through the sustained production of high-quality artwork.
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Tsutakawa (1910 – 1997) was born in Seattle and spent his childhood in Japan, returning to Seattle to earn his BFA from the University of Washington, where he also completed his MFA after WWII. Tsutakawa went on to have a long and distinguished teaching career at UW while creating artwork inspired by nature and his Japanese heritage, including paintings, sculpture, and sumi drawings, as well as the 75 avant-garde fountains for which he is best known. Tsutakawa belonged to the group of artists known at the Northwest Mystics, who rose to prominence in the mid-20th century, and whose frequent gathering place was the Tsutakawa family home in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood.