The steel public art work of desert flora and fauna has been underway for 2 years. It is exciting to see thick steel turned into recognizable barrel cactus, prickly pear, saguaro and ocotillo. In a short while you will be crossing the intersection of Monroe Avenue and 4th Street in Historic Downtown Buckeye and spot the colorful cacti and animals. This project has been a collaboration of many artists like inmates at the Florence Corrections Facility who fabricated the saguaro and ocotillo sculptures, Charlene Powers Broadbent of Powers Leavitt Insurance with Serbin Studio came up with the concepts and Serbin Studio Architects who designed the patterns to create new public art.
The barrel cactus and prickly pear is currently being fabricated by Buckeye Union High School welding Instructor Alijandro Jimenez and welding students. Many hours is spent cutting, knocking off excess, grinding, and making smooth.
As student Jonathan Celaya pointed out, “Many connections on the prickly pear sculpture had to be filled with all the multiple angled connections.” Once metal fill is applied, the rough connection gets smoothed out.
It takes lots of attention to detail to bring a flat sheet of steel to life. Some of the tricks are seen here in the road runner. The wings of the bird aren’t just welded directly to the bird body. To give this fast desert bird some 3 dimensional quality and shadow effect, metal spacers are used in between the wing and body. This same technique is used on the previous steel sculpture of the barrel racer. These pieces will be taken to Glendale Powder Coating next week! More to follow on this exciting project for Downtown Buckeye and public art!
Frequently, Serbin Studio gets pulled away from the design of commercial building to design Public art. Whether designing a building or a sculpture, a similar process is involved. Conceptual design of various renditions are created for the Buckeye Main Street Coalition (entity in charge of creating the art), once a direction is selected, construction documentation is developed. The plans created are submitted to the city for permitting.
The art is a continuation of the sculptures found in Downtown Buckeye previously designed, fabricated and installed near Buckeye City Hall. That originally involved 4 sculptures that included a tractor, a cowboy roper, a cowgirl barrel racer and a cotton boll. www.serbinstudio.com/public-works/
This projects consist of sculptures fabricated from sheets of steel. The prior sculptures were slightly larger and required their own footings. This time, our design intent was to design sculptures that would not require the expense of a large concrete footing. Two of the sculptures are 8′ tall so the effect known as Cantilever – “rigid structural element, such as a beam or a plate, anchored at one end” created a requirement for the sculptures to be stiff enough to allow for bending forces created from the occasional monsoon wind gust. This pushed the steel thickness to 3/4″.
A 4′ X 8′ sheet of steel at 3/4″ thick is approx. 1K LBS. This created another fabrication challenge. Fabrication, maneuvering them around the shop and shop fabrication or cutting of the steel. Once the sculptures were cut, powder coating would wrap the steel in the desired color.
The location of the sculptures are at 4th street and Monroe in Downtown Historic Buckeye. If you know the history of Buckeye, this intersection was the main cross streets of a Town that was the thoroughfare from downtown Phoenix to San Diego up to the early 1970’s. Now I-10 bypasses this quite town, but recently, the town is in its early stages of revival.
Downtown Buckeye in the 1930’s. It was a busy time back then.
The sculptures are located at the 4 corners of Monroe and 4th street. They reference the local fauna and flora of Arizona.