Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Art's role in Tucson historic preservation

[Source: Danielle Sottosanti, Arizona Daily Star] -- Foothills artist Carol Davisson Culbertson captures more than images in her painting. The preserves a little bit of Tucson's history on each canvas and has even played a role in the Rio Nuevo Downtown redevelopment project. "I do it all to restore the Hispanic heritage," she said. Culbertson has spent much of the last few decades trying to preserve, and in some cases restore, Tucson's past. She was an original member of the Tucson Presidio Trust for Historic Preservation, an organization founded in 1984 by prominent local architect Lewis Hall. Until Hall's death in 1998, one of his dreams had been to reconstruct the Royal Presidio de San Agustín de Tucson — the walled fortress that once stood in what is now Downtown Tucson.

In 1999, one year after Hall's death, voters approved the Rio Nuevo project, which includes partially rebuilding the Presidio's northeast tower. Although most people don't realize it, Culbertson's art played a role in the approval of this reconstruction. The Tucson Presidio Trust wanted to show Downtown residents the City Council what Downtown would look like if the Presidio was reconstructed. Culbertson painted the corner of North Church Avenue and West Washington Street, where part of the original Presidio once stood, and depicted the outline of the wall and tower in scale with the existing buildings. This painting circulated around Tucson and is an example of how art can affect society, and vice versa.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Arizona Daily Star.]