Tucson-based Artist, Barbara Grygutis, has Grand Hopes for Large-Scale Projects

Tucson-based large-scale 3D artist Barbara Grygutis believes that, particularly in today’s COVID world, public art can be a way to people to experience culture and joy in a safe environment — outdoors.

With a multitude of public art pieces on display in locations around the U.S. and even as far as Venice, Italy, Grygutis’ projects often have themes of connectivity, empowerment, education, healing, nature, humankind, and more — all things that the world could use more of right now.

Public art is a way to educate, inspire, connect and share — and I hope that people take the opportunity now to go seek it out in their own cities and towns.

I’ve always used art to express important messages and to help bring people together. I’m grateful that my art aligns with, and serves to represent powerful experiences, messages, and events around the country and throughout history.

– Barbara Grygutis

For example, Grygutis’ “Dialogue” sculpture resides at the University of Minnesota Health Sciences Learning Centerrepresenting and highlighting important human interactions necessary for public health including the ability to listen and the ability to dialogue. 

The piece, featuring two monumental 20-feet-high aluminum sculptures with integrated lighting, is highly visible as part of the University’s Health Sciences Education Center and serves as an addition to the campus’s robust public art collection.

The shape of each sculpture is a generalized human head that neither conveys gender, nor race — simply humanity. The sculptures are each unique — one is more transparent while the other is less transparent but more complex in its system of transparency. 

In the summer of last year, the dedication of another large-scale public art piece by Grygutis was part of a celebration in Lexington, Kentucky that served as a commemoration of the women suffragists that fought for the right to vote, and the 100-year anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. 

Grygutis was commissioned by Breaking the Bronze Ceiling for the massive sculpture that is proudly exhibited in downtown Lexington and is aptly titled STAND. She says the piece was designed to capture the courage, willpower, and tenacity of a group of women that forever changed society for the better and the contribution made by the women of Lexington and Fayette County to this monumental achievement.

STAND is a 20-foot-high, 30-foot-wide aluminum sculpture with integrated lighting that encompasses five silhouetted sculptures intended to serve as a reminder of the historic significance of the women who pushed for suffrage, the achievement of the 19th Amendment, and the continuing fight for women’s rights, representation and equality. STAND is the first public sculpture to honor historic women in Lexington.

The artist’s works have even caught the attention of the European art community. Grygutis created PORTAL, an aluminum piece with integrated lighting specifically for an exhibition at the European Cultural Center space Giardini della Marinaressa in Venice, Italy.

Melding art and architectural elements on a human scale, PORTAL is on display through February 16, 2021, as part of the Open Space exhibition.

Grygutis’ home state of Arizona is graced with the artist’s works as well. Phoenix Light Rail riders can enjoy Grygutis’ Creosote Lace,which brings art, light, shade, and the concept of healing through the natural world to the new 50th Street Station in Phoenix.

The project features 11 steel pieces, each 11 feet high, with integrated light. Creosote, the native plant living in the Southwest for more than 17,000 years, served as Grygutis’ inspiration for the project, which was fabricated with steel, laser cut with the creosote pattern, and then painted with a silver finish designed to evoke the shimmering light of the desert.

She considers this work a tribute to the creosote bush — and to the healing powers that thrive within the Sonoran Desert.

A second piece that Grygutis recently created titled A Path for Water brings beauty and light to a neighborhood pocket park in Phoenix.

The stainless steel project with integrated lighting stands 25 feet high and symbolizes the complex relationship between nature, humankind, and the desert’s most precious resource — water — through a massive conical shape with a cutout pattern representing the shadow patterns of native plant life.

Grygutis has a decades-long career in art that began with clay and ceramics and then evolved into large-scale 3D works that are featured in environmental and public spaces around the world. With each piece, Grygutis works to create pieces that are at the same time relevant to the area and also universal in their messaging.

Now more than ever, she feels public art can help connect people during these isolating times. Public art can be enjoyed by everyone, anytime whether simply driving by in the car while on the way to work or taking a walk to enjoy art intwined with nature.

About Barbara Grygutis: 
Over the course of her decades-long artistic career, Grygutis has been commissioned to create more than 75 large-scale public art works around North America and is internationally recognized for her sculptural environments that are integrated into urban and natural landscapes, sculpture gardens, public plazas, memorials, monuments to enhance pedestrian and mass transportation systems. Grygutis currently lives and works in Tucson, Arizona. 

For more, visit: www.barbaragrygutis.com.

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