Tubac has been called the Sedona of Southern Arizona and is internationally known as Arizona's only true artist colony.
It was this descriptive status that led us to plan an afternoon discovering the works of sculptors, painters, potters, artisans and jewelers among the 90 galleries and studios. Home to some 250 people, Tubac is a town of contrasts.
Many of the main streets through town are dirt-covered, appearing unchanged from 1752 when it became the first European settlement in Arizona.
It was once the largest town for miles, then a ghost town, a mining boomtown, and a ghost town once again – refusing to give in to the prophecy of its O’Odham name, Tchoowaka, legendarily translated as "the place of rotting corpses."
Located only 45 miles south of Tucson, Tubac seems to value the "unrestricted" character of the dirt streets. In contrast, shops themselves are well-maintained and house some up-scale galleries and restaurants (more about one of these restaurants tomorrow).
Tubac’s present life as an artist colony began in the 1940’s with the opening of Dale Nichol’s Artist School. Some forty artists traveled to Tubac to study with Nichols, and even though his school operated only a year, many of his students stayed for a number of years before moving on.
In a park in the town, we found these two sculptures by Gary Lee Price, who has been creating bronze sculptures for over 30 years. Price’s mission is to Lift the Human Spirit Through Sculpture.
With this sculpture, entitled "Flight Time," Price said, "Maybe we should all regularly get a little 'flight time' just to get us off the ground a bit and help remind us to keep the proper perspective on things, to laugh more and have a little more fun!"
Located nearby was this Price sculpture, entitled "Monet." Said Price, "After the visit to Giverny, France – home of Monet’s water lily pond, home, garden and studio--and having done plein-air painting myself, I knew I had to capture the ‘Father of Impressionism.' I hope you’ll come and sit with and get to know this magnificent man as he creates his next masterpiece.”
This is the essence of his work. His sculptures capture the unique human spirit.
On the porch of a store were these colorful works. With the bronze statues and dirt park in the background, these bright works seemed even more striking.
One of the shops included some beautiful furniture pieces. This glider was not only artistic but comfortably functional.
These figures were seen outside one of the shops. It struck me that they appeared to be "The Three Amigos," Plus One.
Once again, in the right place, these fellows would seem right at home.
At the opposite end of the continuum from one-of-kind works of art are the works displayed in these two photos.
We have become quite taken by the colors in the pottery and ceramic works.
I think that we saw about ten percent of the shops and galleries in Tubac, so this will definitely warrant a second trip to this artist colony in the Santa Cruz River Valley of Arizona.
(But we did buy a couple of pieces from these last groups.)