Firefighters fountain to get updated

firefighters-memorialA Tucson artist known for her public art will create a lighted memorial wall for the Firefighters Memorial Fountain in Penn Valley Park.

Sculptor Barbara Grygutis, who has done about 75 public art works in the United States and Canada, will create a metal, lighted and translucent wall for the fountain monument.

The fountain’s dedication in 1991 was prompted by the worst firefighter disaster in Kansas City history – a 1988 explosion that killed six firefighters.

Grygutis, known lately for creative work with internal light, will be the third artist to contribute to the memorial.

Local artist Tom Corbin did the bronze sculptures and Byron Gash designed the fountain moument.

The two bronze sculptures of firefighters are surrounded by a plaza that includes granite markers that list the names of about 100 fallen firefighters. This summer, the new lighted wall will include those names.

As with much of Grygutis’ work, it will be paid for by a city one-percent-for-art program.

The fire department has saved its allotment from construction for fire stations, a total of more than $225,000, to go toward the firefighters memorial, said Peter Arneill, public art administrator for the Municipal Art Commission.

He said that Grygutis worked with the commission, firefighters and Friends of Penn Valley Park in the selection process.

“We’re pleased with the inclusive nature of the artist selection process and the collaborative efforts by all parties with Barbara Brygutis to develop an excellent design to help revitalize the memorial and site aesthetics,” he said.

She also developed a master plan for the site that includes building a shade structure and other work, he said.

That would cost more than $250,000 more, he said, and “these added features will likely be on hold for awhile.”

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