Seattle artist Gerard Tsutakawa celebrates 40 years of sculpting

Gerard “Gerry” Tsutakawa, sculptor of “The Mitt” in T-Mobile Park, is celebrating 40 years of art with a new sculpture for the Climate Pledge Arena. # k5abend

SEATTLE – Seattle sculptor Gerard “Gerry” Tsutakawa was surrounded by art from a young age.

“I think I was subconsciously immersed in the art,” said Tsutakawa.

In the footsteps of his father George, Tsutakawa has been an artist for most of his life.

“My father was an artist and also an art teacher,” said Tsutakawa, “he was very interested in the arts.”

George Tsutakawa had a distinctive style that can still be seen in the Seattle area.

“My father’s designs were always very soft volumes. He rarely used a hard edge or a straight line, ”explained Tsutakawa.

Tsutakawa began working in the studio with his father at the age of 23 and helped make Seven Flowers, a fountain outside 8th Street Chase Bank in Bellevue.

“My father was a pretty strong shadow to work under,” said Tsutakawa, “I wanted to stand out.”

And that’s exactly what Tsutakawa did, so much so that his sculpture has become iconic pieces of local art.

“I really feel like I’ve created my own identity,” said Tsutakawa.

Most Seattle residents, and even most Seattle tourists, are familiar with Tsutakawa’s giant bronze baseball glove sculpture that greets visitors to T-Mobile Park. This sculpture has become the focus of many selfies, a fact that Tsutakawa appreciates.

“My philosophy is if it’s public art then the audience should be able to interact with it,” he said.

Another recognizable piece by Tsutakawa is “Tonbi,” a fountain that splashes in a courtyard of the Amazon headquarters.

“’Tonbi’ is actually the name of a bird,” said Tsutakawa, “and (the fountain) has a kind of spreading like it is flying, hence the name.

Satisfied with the outcome of this 2019 piece, Tsutakawa noted that his favorite part about “Tonbi” is the way it looks different from every angle.

“When you walk around the sculpture, there are no two views that are the same, it is constantly changing,” he explained.

This surreal quality is a characteristic part of Tsutakawa’s art.

“A lot of my creativity and ideas come from dreams,” noted Tsutakawa.

He is currently working on a piece for the new Climate Pledge Arena called “Sea Wave”.

“There was an open call for art proposals for the Climate Pledge Arena,” said Tsutakawa. “I created this little bronze, and it represents the ocean waves breaking in a continuous circle.”

Tsutakawa is excited about this opportunity as it enables him to represent a topic that is close to his heart through his art.
“This is a chance for my sculpture to express the idea that the ocean is such a part of our environment,” he said.

In June, the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience opened an exhibit highlighting Tsutakawa’s longstanding sculpting.

“(The exhibition) gave me the opportunity to look back on forty years of bronze sculpture,” said Tsutakawa, “so there are maquettes of many larger works in the city center, as well as a representation of the glove sculpture. So go and see it! “

Looking back gave Tsutakawa the opportunity to reflect on how creating art shaped his life. Although he’s getting older, Tsutakawa says he has no plans to quit anytime soon.

“I move up with age,” he explained, “I turn seventy-four pretty quickly, but I like the job and I have no idea when it will end. You know, when you have a job that is fun, you just want to keep doing it. “

The exhibition “The Gerard Tsutakawa: Stories Shaped in Bronze” will be on view at the Wing Luke Museum until April 17, 2022.

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