Tucson Oddity: Monolith art at busy intersection generates concrete sense of place

2010-02-22T00:00:00Z Tucson Oddity: Monolith art at busy intersection generates concrete sense of placeCarmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 22, 2010 12:00 am  • 

There are 17 monoliths with hues of purples, pinks and oranges that jut toward the sky at the northwest corner of West Ajo Way and South Mission Road.

At sunrise and sunset, the colors jump out.

The stone walls sit in two rows and represent "a mountain range, a canyon, a gateway to Tucson," and the public art is known as Many Color Mountain, or Na: nko Ma: s Du'ag Son in Tohono O'odham, a dedication plaque says.

"The mountains are seen as holy places to the Tohono O'odham," said Martín Rivera, a former manager of the Mission Branch Library, which is adjacent to the public art.

Rivera recalled periodically walking the path between the rows of stone walls and feeling "a sense of place."

Visitors to the library - tourists on their way to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, winter visitors routinely checking their e-mail or aficionados of the annual rodeo or gem and mineral shows - inquire about Many Color Mountain, Rivera said.

There also is the occasional scavenger-hunt participant who wants to know more about the stone towers, said Mary McKinney, the current library manager.

For McKinney, the strips of copper and carvings of javelinas in the walls of Many Color Mountain are best seen up close.

"The children whose little handprints are pressed into the backs of the towers have all grown up now, but they made a lasting impression here," McKinney said.

The public art was done by artists Chris Tanz, Susan Holman and the late Paul T. Edwards. It was dedicated in December 1994, and it cost the city's Transportation Department $55,950, Tucson Pima Arts Council records show.

In addition to the dedication plaque, a description of Many Color Mountain by the artists is at the library's information desk, McKinney said.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or cduarte@azstarnet.com

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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