'Excellence by Design'
Contributed photo, Lee Blackwell's copper sculpture "Copper Car" resides at Big O Tires, 10885 N. Oracle Rd.

Special to The Explorer

The first-ever catalogue of public art in Oro Valley has been published by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance.

The book, "Excellence by Design: A Visual History of Public Art in Oro Valley, Arizona," features detailed information about more than 70 works of art scattered throughout the town.

Entries include biographical information about the artists, personal statements from artists about their work (wherever possible) and the location of each piece. The volume also features artwork at Oro Valley's town government campus, various roadway art displays and several projects completed under the auspices of the Pima Association of Governments Transportation Art by Youth Program.

Since Oro Valley adopted its 1 percent for Public Art Program in 1997, artists have created more than 100 unique works of art throughout the town.

In May 2007, the National Endowment for the Arts invited SAACA to tackle a community-focused project. The Alliance received a grant through the "Challenge America: Reaching Every Community Invitational Initiative," which it used to publish the book.

Gail Munden, an artist, Oro Valley resident and SAACA board member, spent the last two years "living and breathing this project," a release said. She photographed most of the art depicted in these pages, contacted the artists and was responsible for the overall layout and design of "Excellence by Design."

"Since its adoption, the town's public art mandate has resulted in a collection of sculpture and fine art that establishes Oro Valley as excellent by design," Munden said.

In addition to selling copies of the book to the public at large, Munden also considers the volume a "fantastic promotional tool for any business in Oro Valley."

"I consider it a brag book for all Oro Valley residents," Munden added.

SAACA Executive Director Amanda Kate Marquez said "Excellence by Design" would document for posterity the depth and breadth of Oro Valley's commitment to the arts.

"Certainly, when compared to other communities of its size, Oro Valley boasts one of the nation's largest collections of public artwork," Marquez said. "By passing a public art mandate, Oro Valley signaled an ongoing commitment to create beautiful surroundings and enhance the quality of life for all who live or work in the town. This book reflects the success of that effort."

Excellence by Design: A Visual History of Public Art in Oro Valley, Arizona

9-by-12 inches, 112 pages.

Soft-bound versions, $35; hard-bound versions, $80

To purchase or reserve copies, call Pat Deely at (520) 797-3959, ext. 2, or e-mail pat@saaca.org.

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