downtown fresno

Obos

Catagory: Public Art

Obos by George Tsutakawa (1910-1997) can be found on Fulton near Inyo Street

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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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George Tsutakawa was a prominent Asian-American sculptor. He joined the University of Washington art faculty in 1946 to teach art and architecture.  He had over 50 major exhibitions in the US and internationally, including exhibitions in Portland, Denver, Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, Berlin, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Another Tsutakawa piece, Aquarius Ovoid, can be found Fulton Mall between Fresno and Merced Streets.

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