The re-fabricated Tsutakawa Memorial Gates will be installed at the Washington Park Arboretum next month.
“Stolen and destroyed at the start of the pandemic, the original Memorial Gates were a symbol of endurance and of humanity’s connection to nature,” said Arboretum Foundation Executive Director Jane Stonecipher. “They marked the entrance to the Arboretum for more than 40 years, and their loss was a cultural and artistic tragedy.
The story of their re-fabrication and return is an inspiring one of generosity, resilience, and community—truly a story for our times.”
The installation celebration on Sept. 14 will include music, taiko drumming, food trucks, and more.
Made from patinated bronze and featuring an intricate design reminiscent of the plant foliage, flowers, and fruits found in the Arboretum, the original Memorial Gates were created in 1976 by internationally renowned Pacific Northwest artist George Tsutakawa (1910–1997).
In March 2020, just two days after the pandemic-related closure of the Arboretum’s Visitors Center, the Gates were stolen and cut up for scrap. Though quickly recovered by Seattle Police Department detective Mark Jamieson, they were found to be damaged beyond repair.
Shortly after the theft, a number of donors contacted the Arboretum Foundation offering to help to recreate the gates. The Tsutakawa family still had the design blueprints for the gates, and George’s son, sculptor Gerard Tsutakawa—who fabricated the original gates for his father—agreed to rebuild them for the Arboretum.
“Gerard Tsutakawa’s faithful interpretation of his father’s design speaks to the importance of generational artistic wealth and encouragement, represented once again at one of our city’s favorite gathering places,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.
George Tsutakawa’s legacy runs deep in the fabric of the Pacific Northwest. His work is recognized as a unique merging of Japanese and Puget Sound aesthetic traditions into a unified expression. He is remembered not only for his permanent bronze sculptures, fountains, and dramatic paintings, but also his positive humanistic outlook.
For more information, visit georgetsutakawa.com.