Permanent Art Displays - Sonora

Sonora photograph

The monumental statue Sonora occupies center stage in the Joel D. Valdez Main Library plaza. Its creator, David Black, chose its vibrant red color to enliven the stark white and black of the Library and soften the building's sharp angles.

Black describes Sonora as "protoarchitecture," an exploration of the relationship between architecture and sculpture. Various architectural forms such as columns and arches are combined with the sculptural elements of line, shape, form, and space. The pavilion-like structure is intended for use as a meeting or gathering place.

David Black was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and his M F.A. from Indiana University. He retired from fulltime teaching at Ohio State University in 1984, but continues to teach part-time. Black began his career in public art in 1959. His signature works are large steel or aluminum sculptures in open shapes and forms painted in a single bright color. His works appear in Canada, Germany, and throughout the United States. He won the prestigious Henry Moore Grand Exhibition Prize awarded in 1985 at Japan's Utsukushi-gahara Museum.

Black's translation of his impressions of Tucson's cultures and surroundings was initially done through a series of drawings. A small model or "maquette" was then made. Steelcon, Inc., a Tucson company, enlarged the model to form the huge sculpture which weighs in at 32,800 pounds, stands 25' high and 43' wide. Sonora was dedicated on July 4, 1991.

Forms from recognizable natural objects were used to create abstractions of our desert environment. There is the large ring which brings to mind Native American kivas and traditional baskets which have a open spirit hole at the top. The ring rests on six, I I' columns which suggest Mexican palm trees. The stepped pyramids represent the Tucson Mountains and designs found on Native American baskets. Dust devils or desert whirlwinds are depicted by Sonora's big arch. The undulating curves or ripples which flow from one side of the sculpture evoke the sense of water tumbling over rocks in Sabino Canyon. Feathers on arrows appear near the top of the sculpture.

Funding for Sonora was provided by the City of Tucson's "One Percent for Art Program". This program designates to art one percent of the money allocated for each bond funded capital improvement project. Sonora was selected from seventy-four entries submitted to jury representing Pima County Public Library, the Joel D. Valdez Main Library architectural firm of Anderson, DeBartolo and Pan, Inc., the Tucson Museum of Art, and local artists.

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