Broadway Boulevard

Submitted by Niki Glen

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Client: City of Tucson

Location: Tucson, AZ, United States

Completion date: 2020

Artwork budget: $135,000

Project Team

Designer/Sculptor

Niki Glen

Niki Glen Studios

Client

City of Tucson

Co-Designer/Sculptor

Cindee Lundin

The Studio by Cindee Lundin

Sculptor

Ralph Prata

Ralph Prata Sculpture

Overview

Art that Beautifies and Enhances Broadway Boulevard along a 2 mile corridor. A series of six pocket parks along the bicycle and pedestrian pathway has both educational and interactive components, and it is art for the people of the neighborhood, and for the community. The colorful and intricate concrete sculptural forms grace the roadway and create a visual and sensory experience. Each grouping of artwork includes details within the pieces meant to engage the viewer. They highlight a universal connection with beauty and shorten the distance between humans and the natural world. The unity of plants, people, and the elements depicted in mural-like scenes are meant to inspire conversations, thoughts and experiences about the astounding power of nature. Hand carved by artists, Niki Glen, Cindee Lundin and Ralph Prata, in bas relief each pieces tells a story. The “Butterfly Bench” stands as a tribute to the strength and reliance of the fragile looking, yet totally resilient and beautiful, monarch butterflies as they make their way from Midwest to Mexico. Their journey takes place over several generations. In this way, a simple sculptural bench has more than one function. It stands as a bench and it also draws attention and highlights the journey of the monarch butterflies.

Goals

These series of concrete sculptures are installed at multiple locations along the corridor. Public art brings artists' work out of the gallery and into the public spaces. And our community panel members wanted to include several resting places to look at the art. So, we built carved concrete benches set in the landscaping and adjacent to the sculptures; incorporating the ideas of the public with the artist vision and designs.
The motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians all have the opportunity to appreciate the art along the corridor. There will be large pieces that motorists will enjoy, and small pieces for pedestrians to stop and examine. One of our goals was to create art that people will return to time and time again and always find something new to discover and relate to. Residents in the area wanted art that represents the beauty and resources of the desert. Our goals were to create a place to rest, a place to contemplate, a place to enjoy and a place to use your imagination in an urban setting.

Process

"Rhythms of Nature" was created by Niki Glen Studios. Working with the landscape architecture firm, Wheat Design Group, the artists developed the work to symbolically depict the plantings that are actually surrounding the sculpture. Many are edible plants of the Sonoran Desert. We hoped to encourage residents to incorporate plants and trees that need very little water in their own yards. Lead artist Niki Glen was joined by local artists Cindee Lundin and Ralph Prata to create these stunning works of public art. The sculptures were fabricated in The Studio by Cindee Lundin collaborating with Niki Glen, who oversaw the design. Local residents participated in public meetings and collaborated on a panel as well. Their input and suggestions were integrated into the artists’ overall design concept. Each site within "Rhythms of Nature" is part of a broader story that interweaves the flora, fauna, and people of the Tucson area within a historical framework. The project invites our awareness back to nature; space arises for reflection on how to re-connect and interact with the organic world.

Additional Information

The design of "Rhythms of Nature" outdoor sculptures along Broadway Boulevard is contemporary and yet has a distinct regional flavor. With simple sleek forms, shapes and stylized imagery, each of the six sites tells its own unique story in mural form on low relief. The overall palette is colorful, reminiscent of a sunset or local wildflowers and has other elements done in beautiful neutral tones with a splash of color here and there, like the desert itself. By observing nature and all its complexity, we can understand ourselves better and find time to contemplate and notice beauty. We, too, are all a part of nature.