New Art Project Heralds Banner Days For Downtown Tucson

July 21, 2014

Russ Stone, Maintenance Supervisor for DTP, and his crew spent the entirety of Sunday night until 6am the next day putting up these banners in 40 locations.

Russ Stone, Maintenance Supervisor for DTP, and his crew spent the entirety of Sunday night until 6am the next day putting up these banners in 40 locations.

by James J. Jefferies

It takes a lot of things to make an urban center a worthwhile place for people to work, live, and play. It takes revitalized infrastructure and planning, which helps put wind in the sails of business operations both local and transnational, when considering relocation to the area. It also takes compelling destinations that can offer a steady stream of excellent leisure activities and top-notch food and drink.

These elements have already coalesced in an incredible way in Downtown Tucson, with a number of new businesses set to open this very week, among them Flash In The Past, a beautiful new retro-vintage pinup-style photography boutique, and of course, Pizzeria Bianco, which has received extensive coverage in the local media and excitement across Tucson. That these events would coincide with the official launch of the SunLink streetcar on July 25th is certainly no accident. We’ll also be bringing you in depth stories on those new haunts, and plenty else.

Beyond those ‘big’ stories, there’s another ingredient necessary within this complicated recipe for a robust urban renewal, and it hinges around the larger, more elusive concept of a community’s identity. Tucson has always been a intriguing mix of families who have inhabited this area for generations, and a steady infusion of people who have been drawn here by the mild winters and gorgeous surrounding natural scenery.

8 different images will remain in circulation on major streets in the area.

8 different images will remain in circulation on major streets in the area, designed by local artist Eleonor Leon.

Few things can attempt to address this puzzling question of identity in a rich, multicultural landscape such as Tucson’s like well-considered public art projects, and this is precisely what’s next to grace the area, in the form of a series of banners that will be installed by the time you read this, an initiative that hatched as a collaboration of sorts between the Downtown Tucson Partnership, local merchants, and the Tucson-Pima Arts Council.

“We collaborated in committee, and issued an open call to local artists, with the idea being to express the brand new vibe that Downtown Tucson is currently generating,” said Michael Keith, CEO of the Downtown Tucson Partnership. 18 artists responded to an open call for work, submitting their interpretations of this idea, and the chosen artist, Eleonor Leon, created eight different visual impressions transformed into long, vertical banners that now adorn 40 different locations on major streets in the area. Leon is a longtime resident of Tucson, and also owns and operates a vintage clothing shop in the area, La Fashionista, on the nearby corner of Broadway and 6th Avenue.

It feels like a new day for Downtown Tucson.

It feels like a new day for Downtown Tucson.

The banners will remain an ongoing project, with the goal being to eventually have a rotating cycle of artists submitting work that could offer different visual takes on the subject, remaining consistent with the theme of expressing the lifestyle and character of the Old Pueblo. At the moment, there is no timetable for further calls, as this is a brand new program, but the Downtown Tucson Partnership will remain open, as always, to feedback from the community on this exciting new aesthetic initiative within our city’s vibrant and rapidly-changing environment. Watch this spot for more details on this new program, and all the other exciting happenings.

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