Andrea's Fountain
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ldare's picture

Sr. Editor

Go under the sea with Ruth Asawa and Andrea's Fountain full of mermaids!

William Roth, who gathered the initial investors necessary to redevelop Ghirardelli Square, commissioned the fountain in 1968.

The fountain is named after Andrea Jepson, the model used for the mermaids.

The fountain features one mermaid with a merbaby, another mermaid playing with a lilypad, turtles giving rides to frogs, and more frogs randomly thrown everywhere.

This sculpture was the first of many collaborations where Asawa had the help of her friend Mae Lum Lee. They met when their children were both students at Rooftop Elementary School in San Francisco. (Alma mater of notable alumni such as yours truly).

Lawrence Halprin, the architect for Ghirardelli Square, criticized the work for “not being serious.” Which, I am sure, had nothing to do with the fact that Asawa’s design was picked over Halprin’s.

Asawa responded to Halprin’s critique by saying: ‘For the old it would bring back the fantasy of their childhood, and for the young it would give them something to remember when they grow old! I wanted to make something related to the sea. I thought of all the children, and maybe even some adults, who would stand by the seashore waiting for a turtle or a mermaid to appear. As you look at the sculpture you include the Bay view which was saved for all of us, and you wonder what lies below that surface.’

Comments (3)


Ruth Asawa and Andrea's Fountain full of mermaids defiantly adds beauty to the idea of mermaids and nature surrounding them. This fountain also resembles the beautiful, caring environment of nurturing mother to a baby. Art has the power to liberate us to imagine the possibilities of something incredible such as the idea of mermaids. The possibilities of imagination from an art piece can be endless, whether young or old.


I saw this many years ago when we visited San Francisco. It was awesome and I loved it. I still remember it to this day. When I saw the picture on this website, I knew it was the one in Ghirardelli Square and sure enough it was. That is how much of an impact it had on me those many, many years ago. Great piece of art! Loved it.

Lauren Dare

Ruth Asawa was such a great artist and wonderful person! Her advocacy for the arts, in SF especially, had such a huge impact on my own understanding of what art is and could be!