2020 55¢ Ruth Asawa
Value: 55¢ 1-ounce First-class rate (Forever)
Issue Date: August 13, 2020
First Day City: San Francisco, CA
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Printing Method: Offset
Format: Pane of 20
Quantity Printed: 18,000,000
In the art world, Ruth Asawa was known for her intricate wire sculptures. But in San Francisco, she earned the reputation as the "Fountain Lady" for the ornate fountains she designed throughout the city.
Asawa's first fountain, Andrea, was for Ghirardelli Square. It was her first public commission and first major representational work. It depicts two mermaids with frogs, turtles, and lily pads, showing what wonders may lay beneath the water's surface. The square's landscape architect had wanted an abstract work and called for the fountain to be replaced. But the public loved it so much that they fought to keep it.
A number of Asawa's sculptures did take more abstract forms. Several were inspired by origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. A pair of origami fountains in San Francisco's Japantown represent lotus blooms. Her 13-foot Aurora is a wheel-shaped steel structure that has water flowing from its top and sides.
Asawa also worked in relief, as with her History of Wine for Beringer Winery. The large vase-shaped fountain is covered with depictions of events from the history of wine culture in California's Napa Valley.
Asawa's fountains remain popular today. On a daily basis, countless people stop to take pictures of her whimsical creations, examine the fine details, and appreciate how they flow with their surroundings.