S.F. Supe proposes naming Japantown pedestrian mall after late artist Ruth Asawa

RENOWN SCULPTRESS — Noted sculptor Ruth Asawa (below) created many public works of art, including the Origami Fountains that line San Francisco Japantown’s Buchanan Mall (left). file photo

San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston this week proposed naming Japantown’s Buchanan Mall after the famed and late artist Ruth Asawa.

Asawa, who was of Japanese descent, is known for her bold metal and wire sculptures — located in public spaces throughout the city and various other cities like Oakland, San Jose, and St. Helena.

Some of Asawa’s most famous public artworks in San Francisco include the Aurora sculpture along the Embarcadero, the San Francisco Fountain outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown San Francisco, and the Andrea Fountain at Ghirardelli Square.

Introduced during the Nov. 2 Board of Supervisors meeting, Preston’s resolution would name the pedestrian portion of Buchanan Street, located between Post and Sutter streets, “Ruth Asawa Plaza.” The area currently has two fountains designed by the artist, called the Aurora and Origami Fountains.

“It is only fitting that we add Ruth Asawa’s name to the heart of Japantown,” Preston said in a statement. “Her story is one of tremendous perseverance — she was, along with her family and thousands of Japanese Americans, sent to internment camps during World War II — and unending determination, raising six children in San Francisco while creating timeless works of art.”

“The Origami Fountains embody not only the artist’s creativity and unique design, but they also bring to Japantown a sense of history, a sense of place,” Japan Center Garage Corporation Counsel and Asian Pacific American Heritage Foundation President Claudine Cheng said. “We hope the commemorative naming will draw art enthusiasts and visitors alike to come see and experience these foundations in Japantown.

Asawa, who passed away in 2013, is also known for her activism in arts education, with the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts being named after her.

Just last month, Asawa was inducted into the California Hall of Fame.

Also, last year, the U.S. Postal Service released a series of Forever Stamps featuring Asawa’s iconic wire sculptures.

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