Dedication of Youth-Created Public Art

For Immediate Release: July 31, 2013
Press Contact: Emily Duwel | 520.624.0595 x 19 |
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August 13, 6 – 7 PM • Corner of First Avenue & Navajo Street

Eight young people working with two local artists have created a 20-foot welded-steel and painted concrete sculpture for Ward 3’s Mountain View neighborhood. The public is invited to a dedication celebration on Tuesday, August 13, from 6 to7 p.m. at which Councilmember Karin Uhlich will speak.

The Team selected the site because it lies on a route walked by many yet lacks vegetation or other visual interest. A mere two months later, visitors to the area will be able to encounter the large and eye-catching metallic gray sculpture, with its playful polka-dot “pods” on the corner of First Avenue and Navajo Street.

Led by Tucson artists Jason Butler and Hiro Tashima, the project team is comprised of Ward 3 high-school and college students, namely, Amanda Spafford, Nadine Al-Remaizan, Marian Bustillos, Estefan Gallardo, Katherine Cole, Christina Spafford and project assistants Freda Epum and Bronte Marstellar.

This summer youth employment project is being coordinated by TPAC. It is funded by the Pima Association of Governments (PAG) Transportation Art by Youth Program, in partnership with the Tucson Department of Transportation. The Transportation Art by Youth Program serves to provide young people with summer jobs and to beautify Tucson’s neighborhoods.

Over the project’s course, the students have brainstormed ideas with community members and learned to cast and pour concrete and weld steel. They have also taken a site-specific work of public art through all creation phases—from first ideas to final design and from construction to final installation.

After engaging in conversations with area residents and businesspeople (as well as Ward 3 and City staff and TPAC administrators), the project team honed a vision for the future sculpture that references the colorful textile patterns worn by many of the neighborhood’s residents, along with the geometry of city grids, family relations and native Arizona plant forms and mountain ridges. They then set about building concrete leaves and pods that were reinforced by Styrofoam, chicken wire, and welded steel, as well as building the sculpture base.

Integrating the calm formalism of metal artist Jason Butler and colorful humor of ceramic artist Hiro Tashima, the sculpture under way juxtaposes materials, shapes and colors that evoke natural and urban habitats, as well as the lived experiences of the people of Ward 3. The young artists hope the sculpture will help to enliven what they considered to be a formerly desolate corner of their neighborhood.

TPAC’s role in the project included establishing panels to select the teaching artists, as well as helping to facilitate other aspects of project coordination. The aim of public art is to beautify our shared public spaces and enhance the vitality of our neighborhoods and shared civic spaces. The young creators are former and current students of Amphi, Catalina Foothills, Presidio, Sal Pointe and Tucson High Schools and the Sonoran Science Academy.

To learn more call 520-624-0595 x16 or email skrommes@tucsonpimaartscouncil.org.

2013 Pima Association of Government (PAG) Summer Youth Public Art Project Group