A drive down Broadway on the east side is now slightly more colorful, thanks to a series of art installations facilitated by the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona.
Between Camino Seco and Houghton Road, keep your eyes open for concrete sculptures at six sites on both sides of the road.
The colorful sculptures — pillars, benches and even a sundial — depict Tucson scenes that stretch the years. In this series of pieces called "Rhythms of Nature," you'll notice people on the sculptures gardening and gathering alongside critters that call the desert home.
Artist Niki Glen, who created the pieces along with Cindee Lundin and Ralph Prata, designed the sculptures to present a symbolic timeline. One panel, for example depicts a scene that's mostly animals. And then on the next, people are present.
"We wanted people to notice beauty and notice their surroundings," Glen says. She hopes the sculptures will help people do that, even on a busy Tucson street.
You'll spot the sculptures alongside pedestrian and bike paths, depicting water scenes that call to mind Sabino Canyon or featuring edible desert plants easily found in our community. It's about a 2-mile stretch.
Each site has a different theme, but all are unified in pointing to the beauty of the mountains, the sky and the natural world, Glen says.
The six sites along Broadway are part of the city's 1-percent-for-art program, which designates 1 percent of every capital-improvement project for public art. "Rhythms of Nature" is connected to the widening of that stretch of Broadway, says Jeff DaCosta, the manager of public art with the Arts Foundation.
A panel of stakeholders from the surrounding community selects the artist and weighs in on the design, he adds.
Glen says she began work on "Rhythms of Nature" about two years ago. She wanted to create something people could visit repeatedly and still make new discoveries.
The recently completed installation of the project is particularly good timing, she points out, as many museums are still closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. So you might not be able to visit art at the Tucson Museum of Art right now, but you can take a drive or stroll down Broadway to take in some new, local art.
"There are lots of places where people can sit and rest as they look at the art," she says. "It's a combination of art and nature. You can see the mountains from afar and then see the sculptures and the way they interact with the landscape."