A Thursday, June 20 blog post on Casa On and Off the Rez about a controversy over an Arizona Department of Transportation freeway art project on Interstate 10 at the Prince Road exit had the internets buzzing last week.
From the blog:
I just sent the following email to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) regarding the Art Work by the 1-10/Prince Exit in Tucson:
I drive past the new section of the freeway by I-10 and Prince every morning, on my way to work. I'm Tohono O'odham and I was very interested to see that there is what I thought was a Tohono O'odham Basket Dancer, but which is listed as a Basket Weaver on the ADOT website. Aside from it deviating from the theme of the other panels (a folklorico dancer, a mariachi musician and a ceremonial, Yaqui deer dancer) I've spotted a very, very, embarrassing issue that I hope can be immediately addressed.
The Basket Weaver's image is larger than the other panels, and there is a drainage pipe placed very unfortunately between the woman's thighs. It is clearly visible from the freeway, and as soon as the monsoons come and there is an actual NEED for the drainage pipe due to rainwater, I believe that it will appear that this woman is peeing.
I am assuming that the image of the basket weaver was chosen to honor the Tohono O'odham people, so I am sure that you will be as horrified as I am, knowing that the elder in the image is unintentionally being disrespected.
I am requesting that you either move the drainage pipe off the woman's image or you replace the image accordingly.
Weekly World Central took a drive to check on the panels on Thursday, June 20th but didn't notice the pipe in question, but a call to AZDOT was returned on Monday, June 24 and confirmed that Casa On the Rez wasn't the only person out there who complained.
And yes, at one point there certainly was a drainage pipe sticking out between the Basket Weaver's thighs.
According to Dustin Krugel, an AZDOT public information officer, the issue was remedied earlier that day on Thursday, June 20. Krugel called the pipe a weep-hole and said they are common and needed for retaining walls such as the one where the artwork is displayed along the freeway. Without the holes, the walls could fall apart.
Krugel said the artwork did go through tribal channels for approval. The drainage holes, however, are placed every 10 feet along every wall. Workers were able to get rid of the pipe because of the other existing pipes without worrying that there would be future damage to the wall.
"The work has been done since January," Krugel said. "But once we knew about the problem we notified the crew and they immediately fixed it on Thursday."