At a Nov. 5 council meeting, the Town of Marana approved the design of a public art project that aims to represent the community and also allows high school students to contribute their artistic skills.
The art piece selected by town council is titled “Horse & Rider” and will feature a man riding a horse, with a saguaro and a steer nearby. It will be installed at the roundabout located at Marana Main Street and Sandario Road.
“Conceptually, this project is just one very, very small piece of the overall very long-term project that we have of developing and creating a downtown space for Marana residents,” said Marana Economic Development Specialist Heath Vescovi-Chiordi.
While this will be the first art piece to appear in the designated downtown Marana area, there are other artistic monuments throughout the town that reflect the community’s past.
In 2017, the Town of Marana unveiled “The Deer at Tangerine Sky Park” installation by artist Trevor O’Tool, which showcases a family of deer made out of solid steel.
The new project, along with the deer installation, was made possible by a grant from the Transportation Art by Youth Program, which is funded by the Pima Association of Governments. The grant gives between $25,000 to $75,000 towards creating an art piece in a highly visible area with the purpose of incorporating and engaging students in the process.
Considering the welding program offered at Marana High School, town officials asked welding teacher Kenton Webb to nominate students to help construct the artwork and contribute their ideas.
“They’ve got very, very talented welders over there and machine shop workers,” Vescovi-Chiordi said. “We wanted to give them an opportunity to showcase the skills that they’ve been acquiring throughout this program and put them into direct application with something that will be highly visible and highly regarded in the town of Marana.”
According to Vescovi-Chiordi, the artwork will be unveiled with a celebration upon completion.
“[The students] will be able to see their artwork and what they’ve done on display as well the rest of the entire town,” he added. “It’s really cool that they get to make a mark on their community.”
Furthermore, the same artist who worked on the family of deer piece will also be at the forefront of this new project. In addition to being familiar with working with the welding students, O’Tool’s work and art style are exactly what the Town of Marana is looking for.
“He knows exactly what’s got to be done, what timelines we’re working on, and how to expedite the process in areas where it makes sense,” Vescovi-Chiordi said.
After O’Tool designed several different concepts for potential art pieces, he and Vescovi-Chiordi presented them to Mayor Ed Honea and Town Council at their Nov. 5 meeting.
One of concepts was a coyote pack which symbolizes the wildlife in the Sonoran Desert, while another concept was like the original “Horse & Rider” but designed with cut out slats that would change the perspective of the art as people drive around the roundabout.
“They’re all very nice pieces of art, I think we’d be proud of any of them,” Honea said at the meeting. “I really like the steer and the cowboy on the horse with a saguaro in the middle.”
He added that the piece speaks to North Marana and its history with ranches, barrel racers and steer roping.
“If you want to have people come into this end of town and kind of see some of our history and what we’re all about, I really like those,” Honea said.
The other council members favored the same design, adding that they prefer the polygonal design, which consists of smaller shapes welded together to create the overall form.
Additionally, there will also be a landscaping project incorporated into the roundabout to complement the art piece.
The project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020, around February but no later than March.
Vianney Cardenas is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.