Oro Valley Arts
Words by Sarah Burton
Photos by David Seeber
From pre-Columbian etchings to contemporary works, you’ll find it all in OV
Just northwest of Tucson, with the dramatic Pusch Ridge as its backdrop, Oro Valley reads like a treasure map of exploration for fans of the arts. This scenic town takes the arts seriously, requiring commercial developers to provide funding for public art.
With more than 200 pieces of public art here, expect to see a full range of mediums and subjects, from whimsical bronze sculptures of children playing to interpretive reflections of the surrounding terrain. Fans of sculptures, mosaics, and other large-format installations will want to visit Oro Valley's website for the free guided tours of the town's public artwork, occurring twice monthly, September-June.
A visit to Tohono Chul is a must while in the area. Explore the 49-acre grounds dedicated to preserving and celebrating the natural wonders of the Sonoran Desert. Although the park is surrounded by a bustling urban center, once you're wandering through the trails, you're instantly transported to a garden of serenity. The property includes a charming old adobe home-now gallery-chock-full of regional artists' work.
If your interests extend beyond the arts into heritage and culture, Oro Valley has several noteworthy sights. Discover the Hohokam people who thrived in this area for a thousand years at Catalina State Park where a short hike brings you to Romero Ruin. In nearby Honeybee Canyon, less than a mile from the trailhead, marvel at the petroglyphs they left behind. Hundreds of years later, ranchers settled in this area, and you can find remnants of their past along both trails. Today, residents and visitors alike visit Steam Pump Ranch for weekly farmers markets and other events. Settled by German immigrants in the 1870s, this ranch is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.
If you’re looking to purchase something to remember your visit, stop at the Western National Parks Association store where you can find Mexican and Native American art and handmade crafts, such as baskets, jewelry, carvings, and pottery. And when you buy that piece of art, feel good knowing that proceeds support the national parks of the West. Think of it as your investment in both the natural and cultural arts of the region.