Some Good News: Ruth Asawa Stamps are Here

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Three of the 20 stamps planned by the United States Postal Service to commemorate San Francisco-based artist Ruth Asawa. (USPS)

Ruth Asawa has been commemorated in a run of official postage stamps, available today, Aug. 13.

The stamps honor the work of the late, beloved San Francisco-based Asawa, a Japanese American artist whose fountains adorn the city and whose detailed wire sculptures have become an instantly recognizable emblem of her long, varied career.

The 20 stamps in the set showcase Asawa's wire sculptures, with a 1954 Life magazine photograph of Asawa in the margin of the set. The stamps, good for use indefinitely as "Forever" stamps, cost 55¢ each or $11 for a sheet of 20. They can be purchased in person at any post office branch, or online directly from the USPS.

Stamps featuring the wire sculpture of Ruth Asawa.
Stamps featuring the wire sculpture of Ruth Asawa. (USPS)

The Ruth Asawa stamps will be commemorated in a virtual dedication ceremony on Aug. 13 at 10:30am Pacific Time on the USPS' Twitter and Facebook pages. George Takei, of Star Trek fame, is scheduled to speak.

Asawa's wire sculptures will be familiar to visitors of the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Fifteen are on permanent display in the museum's tower building.

Asawa was born in 1926. During WWII, she and members of her family were sent to Santa Anita racetrack, and then to Arkansas, as part of the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans. She later attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Though versed in a variety of disciplines, her work with wire sculpture attracted nationwide attention starting in the 1950s.

In 1966, Asawa created the mermaid fountain in San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square. Fountains at the Hyatt in Union Square, the Embarcadero, and other locations around the Bay Area followed, often created in collaboration with schoolchildren. Asawa also led a drive to establish the San Francisco School for the Arts, now named in her honor.

Asawa died in 2013. A biography of her life and work, Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asawa, was released earlier this year by Chronicle Books.