DuPen Fountain

Seattle Center is in upheaval. The Sonics have gone to Oklahoma, KeyArena is struggling to find new events to fill the revenue gap, Memorial Stadium is crumbling, the Fun Forest will soon close, and the ongoing Century 21 makeover plan is gonna take a whole lot of money to implement. But in certain quiet corners of the civic campus, things are working just fine. Though briefly endangered by a skateboard park last summer, located northwest of the Key in a concrete box canyon, one such enduring element from the original 1962 World’s Fair design is DuPen Fountain. A UW professor and sculptor, Everett DuPen (1912–2005) worked in concert with prominent modernist architect Paul Thiry, who designed the old Seattle Center Coliseum and other Center sites, to establish the water garden (sometimes also called the Fountain of Creation). Local tots and moms use it as a wading pool in summer. When the splashing subsides in autumn, it’s a place for calm contemplation. The bronze forms within do suggest creation; poised over the waters and boulders, there’s a sense of nature struggling to take shape, emerging as if from tide pools. Unlike the Garden of Eden, life isn’t raised by a single divine touch. The inchoate organic and the human form are here linked together. In the fountain’s comparatively short history, two generations of mothers and children have waded in these waters. Those life cycles echo the longer path of evolution, perhaps giving hope for the unruly grounds outside the fountain. BRIAN MILLER

Starts: Sept. 16. Daily, 2008

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