When urban planners in Marana’s Development Services department consider new housing permits, they take a variety of considerations into account. How close is the nearest school? How can we ensure that homes are near major thoroughfares without sitting directly on a busy road? What infrastructure needs will the homes require? For a new family about to take up residence in Marana, though, the Town has chosen to ignore all these considerations.
Soon, a father, mother, and their three offspring will settle into an open clearing just south of Tangerine Road, east of Twin Peaks, and north of the soon-to-open Tangerine Sky Community Park. The family have received special permission to occupy so unorthodox a location as an open clearing. Their home will have no utilities. The structure will not be reviewed by a building inspector. In fact, there won’t even be a structure. But for this family of steel deer, Marana’s newest art installation, a patch of dirt under the open sky is all they need.
The idea for these newcomers to Marana started with Trevor O’Tool. Trevor holds a Bachelor in Fine Arts in 3-D and Expanded Media from the University of Arizona. As a welder, chaser, and metal processer, he has constructed bronze sculptures to be incorporated into the work of other artists. He founded a clothing company in Lake Havasu City and exhibited sculptures throughout Tucson. And a few evenings each week, he’s a hooker.
“Basically, my job is to hook the ball back during scrums,” explains Trevor, with a bashful grin. “And whenever the ball goes out of bounds, I throw it back in during line outs.” Trevor has been the hooker for the Tucson Magpies, a recreational rugby club, since he graduated from the UA four years ago.
In fact, it was through rugby that Trevor met Angela Wagner-Gabbard, a resident of Marana and a member of the Marana Citizens’ Forum subcommittee on public art. In 2014, the five-member subcommittee provided guidance to the Town Council on how best to execute the Transportation Art by Youth Grant, a program sponsored by the Pima Association of Governments, which provides resources to incorporate art into transportation projects. The grant enables art-oriented youth organizations to collaborate with professional artists to design projects that help beautify a variety of infrastructure improvements. Angela encouraged Trevor to submit a proposal, and after a lengthy review process, Marana, for the first time ever, hired a hooker.
Marana’s new art installation will be part of the improvements along Tangerine Road between Dove Mountain and Thornydale Roads. In reviewing a variety of proposals, Marana’s grant reviewers, including the subcommittee of the Citizens’ Forum, wanted to see a design that reflected the natural environment of this setting. This arterial road connects northern Marana and Oro Valley with Interstate 10, crossing just south of the Tortolita Mountains. The wildlife that inhabits these mountains includes several species of megafauna which enjoy an elevated status in the popular imagination. Mountain lions prowl these canyons, wild horses lope through the saguaro forest, and mule deer bound up the steep slopes. Lots and lots of mule deer.
Those deer are what Trevor had in mind when he proposed his sculpture. “The solicitation for this project indicated that Marana wanted a design that referenced the Native American history of this site. The Hohokam used to live in the Tortolitas, and when I learned that they associated the deer with ideas like gentleness and innocence, I decided to go in that direction. Right now, Marana is building Tangerine Sky Park nearby, and eventually, there will also be a school in this area. I think the Hohokam symbolism of deer will really fit nicely in this setting.”
When Marana staff and members of the Forum subcommittee saw his design, they couldn’t help but agree. The image of a massive doe and buck, leading a family of three fawns, captured the imagery they had hoped for. Trevor received overwhelming approval to move forward with his design.