In remembrance: Ted Jonsson

The Seattle area recently lost an important member of our arts community. Artist Ted Jonsson, passed away June 19 after a one year battle with ALS.

Jonsson was one of the first artists commissioned for an artwork under the 1% for art ordinance. The work, Chimera, completed in 1975 is located near the entrance of Seattle Public Utilities’ Operations Control Center, 2700 Airport Way South. The artwork consists of two curved, polished, stainless steel pipes, which begin at either end of a pool of water and meet at the pool’s center, curving upward in an “S” shape. The two pipes mirror one another, creating the symmetrical form of a figure eight. Water pours out of the top of each curved pipe in the center of the pool and splashes away toward the sides of the pool.

Ted Jonsson, Chimera, 1975, stainless-steel pipe, 10’H x 24’W x 5.5’D. Located at Seattle Public Utilities’ Operations Control Center, 2700 Airport Way South.

Jonsson wrote of the artwork, “The fountain’s concept is that of huge polished stainless steel pipes in a sculptural form extended by the shape of water projected out of two intricately designed orifices. These increase the illusion of tremendous volumes of water.”

Ted Jonsson studied sculpture and architecture at the University of Washington completing his MFA in sculpture in 1965. As the first BFA candidate at UC Davis before graduating in 1957, he played four years of first-string varsity football and then was commissioned into the US Army. There he achieved Captain rank as a US Army Aviator, ultimately piloting courier planes from Fort Lewis to the Yakima Firing Center thus becoming enamored with the Pacific Northwest.

Ted Jonsson’s commissioned artworks can be found throughout the state of Washington and in other states including California, Maryland and Alaska. His daughter Theodora Jonsson put it best, “his character and ability to see beyond all foreseeable odds will stay with us always as an example to live by.”