Tucson Oddity: Metal bodies now at home in park

2011-08-29T00:00:00Z 2014-09-01T17:13:33Z Tucson Oddity: Metal bodies now at home in parkVeronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 29, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Through the harsh summer days and chilly winter nights, one group of people is perpetually at play.

A tall steel sculpture titled "People Play" keeps company with mesquite trees and barrel cacti near the soccer fields at Rillito Park, on North First Avenue just south of River Road.

The 30-foot-tall sculpture is a tower of several parabolic arches stacked atop and looping through each other.

Sixteen figures of nude men and women with varying expressions of joy carved on their faces are posed on the arches. Some are sitting, others are climbing and swinging, and one is hanging upside down.

The sculpture, reminiscent of people playing on a jungle gym, seems perfectly at home in the north-side park, but that isn't the spot it was created for.

The metalwork, made by Thomas Bredlow, was originally commissioned by Steve Nanini and was installed in front of one of his former properties at 7355 N. Oracle Road, said Mary Ellen Wooten, the public art program manager for the Tucson Pima Arts Council.

In the early '90s when Family Life Radio took over the building, the station opted to have the sculpture moved, saying that it did not fit in with its landscape plans, Wooten said.

A representative from the Christian station said the organization wanted to install a flagpole in place of the sculpture.

The artwork was donated to TPAC, whose public art committee decided to install it at Rillito Park in 1992.

Bredlow, who created the piece, has another idea for the sculpture's second life - the entry to the landfill. "The people who liked it were the people like me who soiled their clothes when they worked," said Bredlow, a retired blacksmith.

He figured people would enjoy the sculpture as they came and went to the landfill, and then when the dump filled up, it would be the last thing to be tossed in.

Contact Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or 573-4203.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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