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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Preserving public art is neccesary for our community

    Public art is essential to building a sense of community.

    Tucson’s diverse population comes from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. Public art helps to unite all of Tucson’s citizens through something everyone can share, whether they were born abroad, are from out of state or are Tucson natives.

    This month, the Arizona Daily Star explored the deteriorating state of public art in Tucson, arguing that its preservation and continued growth are important.

    “[Public art] provides an opportunity for everyone to be exposed to art on a daily basis,” said Lacey Wolf, a professional photographer and senior studying philosophy and art history.

    Moving art out of the “sacred space of the museum,” Wolf added, “makes it available in our daily lives and to the average person.”

    Public art is relevant to students because it provides a sense of community, and this is especially important for those who are not native to Tucson.

    By giving people the opportunity to be exposed to art on a daily basis — especially through pieces like “Windows to the Past” — Tucsonans and students can share a common understanding of what Tucson was like in the past and what it is today. With their explicit emphasis on the people of Tucson, both the “Windows” mural and the Tucson Portrait Project instill a feeling of continuity with our culture.

    However, due to the lack of attention brought to Tucson’s public art, displays like the distinctive Rattlesnake Bridge and the “Windows to the Past, Gateway to the Future” mural, which portrays people walking the streets of downtown Tucson from the 1930s to the 1960s, are becoming “visual litter.”

    In 1989, Tucson and Pima County began requiring that 1 percent of each public capital investment project, which is funded by taxpayer money, be used for public art projects. However, these funds can only be used for creating public art, not repairing it, so current displays are left to deteriorate. Crumbling art is the last thing Tucson should display to those who move to the city and are seeking a sense of belonging.

    Public funding for the arts is a worthy cause because it provides the city with a sense of life and context and provides residents, temporary and permanent, with a sense of place and a greater appreciation for what art can do.

    “All the public artworks are very recognizable and very Tucson,” Wolf said. “Beauty’s always a good thing.”

    The Rattlesnake Bridge, the Tucson Portrait Project featured in the 4th Avenue underpass and the “Windows to the Past” mural — along with the Lewis C. Murphy (Tucson mayor, 1971-1987) Sculpture and the Loxodonta africana, both featured near Reid Park — are examples of how art can give a greater sense of reality to the city of Tucson. These pieces showcase life in Tucson — and the life of Tucson — and demonstrate the uniqueness of Tucson culture.

    Wolf put it perfectly: “[Public art] is a great display of pride in our culture and in our city.”

    The fix is simple: A portion of the 1 percent-for-art program shoud be designated for upkeep of public art so we can repair the works already in place and encourage more projects in the future.

    In doing so, we demonstrate to everyone who resides in Tucson, whether just for school or more permanently, that Tucson’s culture is unique and has much to offer in the way of art and community.

    Carson Suggs is a senior studying English. Follow him on

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