The city of Apache Junction on Aug. 1 dedicated its first public art pieces, “Playful Pups,” under the Arts Commission created to use funds from commercial projects.
“This is a significant day to be able to unveil this beautiful artwork,” City Manager Bryant Powell said during the dedication. “This is our first commissioned project and with that these amazing art pieces are the culmination of the hard work of dozens of people.”
The three dog sculptures were dedicated at the Dutchman Dog Park after being selected by the art panel last year. Metal artist Trevor O’Tool fashioned the pieces that were installed near the entrance to the year-old dog park at Idaho Road and Superstition Boulevard.
“It was enjoyable because it was dogs,” O’Tool said. “Who doesn’t love dogs? It’s just a fun project. It was for a dog park so watching the people show up and seeing their dogs reacting to the dog (sculptures) is entertaining.”
The sculptures took several months to fabricate at O’Tool’s Tucson studio. The art commission chose O’Tool, who has a portfolio of pieces in several locations, including at former President Nixon’s presidential library in Yorba Linda, Calif., and the Oklahoma City Zoo in Oklahoma. O’Tool said he really liked working on the sculptures.
“I like doing the public art because it’s site specific,” he said. “I’m usually drawn to those things, because I’m not just doing one thing all the time like some artists do. I like challenging myself with different projects, different things in different areas. For instance, this dog park, for the dogs, it’s like a perfect combination.
“From beginning to end, I do enjoy the computer work (design),” he added. “Once I get to the metal, I enjoy welding and grinding and all that – a lot of steps but it’s all fun and enjoyable.”
The public art pieces are part of a program passed by the Apache Junction City Council in 2019 that calls for up to 1 percent of construction budgets for new commercial projects in the city be set aside for public art. A contractor can commission its own artwork or submit to the public art fund for use around the city.
The projects are chosen by the five-person arts commission, chosen by the city council, which fields proposals, analyzes and selects projects under determined criteria. The public art commission first selects sites for public art, then a call to artists is released. Artwork is site specific. Artists submit qualifications and are then selected by a panel of citizens, including public art commissioners, and arts professionals. The artist then works with the community and city staff to create a concept. Concepts are reviewed by the commission, then by the city council. Once approved, the artist begins fabrication.