Less than a year ago, representatives with the RTA, the City of Tucson and Pima County participated in ribbon cutting and the basic installation of the public art piece known as The Cocoon. The $200,000 plus weave of metal pipes is now surrounded by weeds and warning signs.
The tunnel-like structure sits next to the paved pedestrian path alongside the newly widened Houghton Road. The Houghton Road Corridor Improvement Project includes a six-lane stretch of road with rubberized asphalt, and landscaped medians being taken over by weeds.
The public art user-unfriendly project provides no real shelter from the sun or other elements and as the AZDI reported last summer, it in fact acts as an oven.
To add to the user-unfriendliness, the initial “artistically” placed friendly white placards that read “Not Designed For Climbing,” have been replaced with government issued signs that read: “Please Keep Off – Do Not Climb.”
While participating artists said that the sculpture was inspired by nature and wildlife habitats, it is now rendered nearly impenetrable with nature blocking the south end entrance.
As with many bond funded projects in Pima County, the capital is laid out for a project, and money for maintenance is hard to come by.
Public art planning artists Nina Borgia-Aberle, Stephen Grede, and Blessing Hancock had worked with the design team and the community on the Public Art Master Planning Process since November of 2009. During that time, they collaborated with the community, attended Community Design Review Committee (CDRC) meetings, and Houghton Road project open house events, as well as neighborhood association meetings and community events.
Now, it appears that the best laid plans fell short.