SIERRA VISTA — For many years, the city has had a vision of bringing art to public spaces around Sierra Vista and with a call to artists posted last week, that dream is taking the first steps to becoming a realty.
The city is currently looking for a professional artist or team of artists to create a mural for the water tower located at the southwest corner of Denman Avenue and Canyon Drive.
This unconventional canvas is positioned in the West End of town and when the city began scouting locations for a public art project, this one stood out.
Community Development Director Matt McLachlan said that the city is contributing $10,000 for this project from Community Development Block Grant money allocated annually by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Along with the CDBG funds, Liberty Utilities is also contributing financially and will have say in the final concept.
“We reached out to Adolfo Garcia perations manager) at Liberty Water and they were more than a willing partner,” McLachlan said. “Not only did they agree to let us use the water tower for the mural project, they contributed $5,000 towards the cost.”
The goal of the project is to continue revitalization efforts on the West End and to bring more public art projects to the city.
“The West End Commission has a strong interest in seeing more mural projects,” McLachlan said. “We are hoping this encourages civic pride and improves the aesthetics of the neighborhood.”
The city’s Arts and Humanities Commission is leading the project and will be responsible for looking over submitted proposals and selecting an artist.
“After we get all the proposals we’re supposed to review, we’ll then come to a consensus on which one we feel is best — one that suits Sierra Vista, not only the culture we have here but something that would also be suitable for the West End,” explained commission member Anastasia Dean.
“We’ll also be making a recommendation for whatever the artist wants to do within the parameters of the project, and it’s a big project and not a huge budget.”
Dean said that the commission hopes to see a mural that represents what makes the city unique.
“We certainly want it to be reflective of the community here, the people here, our history — we have a long history — and of course we want it to look beautiful,” she said. “We definitely have our own unique culture in the desert and I think it should reflect that.”
The city’s West End Commission will also be involved, helping to determine the final concept.
Commission Chair Rosie Mackey said they have always wanted a project like this to happen but didn’t have enough momentum in the past. She’s excited to see this move forward and the doors it could open.
“It’s going to be a landmark ... people are going to use it like ‘see where the water tower is, meet me there,’” she said. “I think people need to relate to it — like, ‘this is my community and this just shows it as it is.’”
As the project moves on, she hopes to work with both commissions to find additional funds for the project.
“Funding is important,” she said. “I think the West End Commission wants to get together with the Arts and Humanities Commission and talk about ‘let’s go after some grants.’”
“There’s some money out there that can fund these to a great extent.”
Councilwoman Carolyn Umphrey is the council liaison to both commissions and said the groups share a common desire to bring more public art to the community.
She believes projects like this one will allow residents additional opportunities to identify with their community.
“It’s going to start conversations, engage our public, our citizens, get people talking to each other,” she said. “There’s studies coming out now to support the positive impact this (public art) has on communities.”
“Now municipalities that had reserved funds are like ‘we have to make this a priority.’”
She hopes this is just the first of many future art projects.
“If there’s a mural, people are going to start taking selfies and photos with it,” she said. “It’s going to make this public space more special.”
The city is looking for a professional artist or team with at least three years of experience with public art.
Applicants have until June 20 to submit their proposals and interviews will take place June 24 to 28.
The city will consult with the community before the project is completed.
McLachlan said he hopes the project is completed by sometime in mid-October.