Saturday, September 29, 2007


Having posted pictures just a few days ago of the big, red, freshly painted whatever-it-is in front of the public library downtown, I had no particular plans this week to photograph or post any other pieces of art in public places. (Is that enough alliteration for you? 'Cause I could try again if you like.) But on my way back from lunch today I was stopped at an unfamiliar intersection, where I spotted this oddity:

I'm not sure you can tell what it is from this first photo. In fact, I'm not sure I know what it is myself, and I saw it fairly close up, in person. The pink thing behind it is one of those little memorial shrines that turn up at nearly every dangerous intersection in Tucson. But what is that big blue thing? Let's look closer:

Does that help? I'm not sure it does, much. It's a winged figure, possibly female but a bit androgynous, it seems to me; surrounded by tablets or tombstones as it holds the earth aloft. The tablet in front of the figure proclaims a theme: "TOGETHER WE RISE."

What? What? What?

Aside from general platitudes about unity and the common good, "the brotherhood and sisterhood of Man," as John Lennon once sang in concert, I have little idea what the inscription is supposed to mean, let alone the statue itself. Who is the blue figure with the white splotches all over its face? What does it mean by "we," and what are we rising toward, and why? Is there a reason why the mysterious blue Atlas Angel (I just made that up) is on that specific street corner? Is there a particular group of people it is meant to inspire? And what inspired the artist to make the figure in the first place, and prop it in place along Irvington Road? Not even Google has a clue about this. The only thing I can think of is that the local LGBT support center is called Wingspan, and Mr or Ms Atlas Angel has wings.

What do YOU think it's about?

Speaking of inspiration, I loaded a picture of Tuffy on my desktop at work on Thursday. It's not actually my computer; I'm sharing it with the person who is training me. When she is logged in, the computer shows a mountainous road in Utah. When I'm logged in, I'm looking at my poor Tuffy.

Years and years ago, there was an episode of The Simpsons about Homer's apparently indifferent relationship with his youngest child, Maggie. There do not appear to be any photos of Maggie in the house, and Homer doesn't seem to pay as much attention to the baby as he does to Bart or Lisa. But over the course of the episode we learn that Homer made a break from the nuclear plant for a more fulfilling but less lucrative line of work, the nature of which I've long since forgotten. When Marge was pregnant with Maggie, Homer resumed working for Mr. Burns - and there, at Homer's workstation, are dozens of photos of Maggie, along with the words, "Do it for her." At odd moments of the day today, I looked at my desktop picture of Tuffy with her three shaved surgical sites, and the words "do it for her" kept coming to mind. Now, I don't need a canine cancer crisis to keep me working at this new job; it's a good job, and a little better every day as I start to get a clue how to do it. Nevertheless, I think of Tuffy, and I'm inspired to work a little harder, and to do whatever I can for her directly.



Sarah said...

On first glance at the non-closeup photo, I thought this sculpture was some sort of take on The Thinker . . . with a globe for a head and the arm supporting the back of the head instead of the chin. I sort of like that better than the actual imagery of the winged figure holding the globe up.

julie said...

I immediately thought of a phoenix. Yeah, I know a phoenix is a bird, but the wings are kinda fiery, and the phrase sorta fits. Perhaps the artist(s) just want people to think about it...

Carly said...

Hi Karen

I love it. It is an interesting piece, I wish there was more information. The sculpture in front of the library is titled, "Sonora." It was done by artist, David Black. By the way, I think it would be wonderful if you posted more of the terrific public art pieces in your area, there is some really neat stuff in Tucson. Lots of history. :) Please give Tuffy a hug from me, I am thinking about her.

Always, Carly

PS Here is a link to the Tucson Pima Public Arts Council. You can find out more about where the pieces are located and info about the artists. :)