New public art installed along transportation improvements not only beautifies the region’s landscape, it also offers an opportunity for youth artists to showcase their skills and gain valuable work ethic through Pima Association of Governments’ Transportation Art by Youth program.
The program, which PAG initiated in 1995 through its Transportation Improvement Program, offers paid summer employment for youth artists. Proposed projects must be submitted by a sponsoring jurisdiction, which manages the approved project and is reimbursed for budgeted project expenses. The sponsoring jurisdiction is required to recruit youth artists from economically disadvantaged areas.
Artwork, signage or landscaping projects may be eligible. The students’ concepts and techniques are aimed at humanizing the roadway system, enhancing urban gateway features, and helping define the unique identity of their respective communities.
Major benefits of the program include both the quick and effective implementation time frame as well as the high visibility of resulting artwork along major transportation corridors.
PAG annually seeks applications in the fall for implementation the following year. PAG’s Transportation Planning Committee approves eligible projects and funding. A project size is based on available funding or accrued TABY funding by jurisdiction.
More recent TABY projects include:
- Youth artists covered 10 planters (39 inches by 24 inches) with vivid, 360-degree murals documenting the special traditions, plants, animals and people of the Sonoran Desert and 12th Avenue. They were installed in 2021 along South 12th Avenue between West Irvington Road and West Drexel Road.
- A public art tableau at a roundabout terminus featuring a life-size cowboy, steer and saguaro cactus welcomes visitors to downtown Marana in a nod to the community’s Southwestern heritage. Constructed during the coronavirus pandemic, the town implemented social distancing protocol and enhanced sanitation and health protocol, including additional respirators for the artist, the instructor, and the students as they completed the project.
- A bicycle, pedestrian and equestrian refuge area and sculpture in Oro Valley on the southwest corner of West Hardy Road and North Northern Avenue. Oro Valley high school students designed and constructed this impressive art piece with a theme that reflects the local neighborhood equestrian heritage. The seating and refuge was created using ceramic and metallic tiles of varying sizes, designs, shapes and textures.
- A mosaic mural strip with tiles was installed in the pedestrian underpass/tunnel under West Sahuarita Road in the Town of Sahuarita. The mural is very colorful and includes Arizona themes in the tile work.
- A sculpture was installed at East Golf Links Road and South Pantano Parkway near Michael Perry Park in the City of Tucson.
- Four gateway tile signs marking the South 4th Avenue entryways into the City of South Tucson were constructed and installed at East 26th Street and South 4th Avenue and at East 40th Street and South 4th Avenue.