I’ve written before about the sculptures on Main Street in Mesa, Arizona. (You can read past posts about The Big Pink Chair and Booked for the Day.) Today’s featured sculpture is called Teaching Children Since 1878.
The sculpture is the central piece of a larger plaza setting, which includes 16 bronze or brass relief plaques on surrounding stucco wall with inscriptions on the history of education in Mesa and 4 columns from the original Mesa High School (formerly known as the second Abraham Lincoln School).
The brochure with information about the self-guided tour of the Mesa’s sculpture collection lists the sculptor as James Avati, but the aforementioned Smithsonian Institution website lists three people as sculptors of this piece: James R. Avati, C. L. Harding, and Dennis Tidwell.
While writing this post, I learned James R. Avati is from a family of artist. According to Wikipedia,
James R. Avati’s biography on the Utah Artist Project website refers to Teaching Children Since 1878 as a “major commission.” It also says,
James R. Avati of Redbank, New Jersey, and Salt Lake City, is an excellent and sensitive sculptor who studied at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts, at the Arts Students League in New York City, at Ricks College in Idaho, and at Brigham Young University. He was also a graduate student in the Department of Art at the University of Utah where he earned his M.F.A. in 1988. While there he worked with Angelo Caravaglia in the development of his frequently powerful art.
This life-size bronze sculpture is located on the south side of Mesa’s Main Street, on the corner of Sirrine Street.
I enjoy the juxtaposition of the fashions worn by the teacher and her students against the backdrop of modern buildings and cars, motorcycles and traffic lights. The teacher reminds me of a statue of a pioneer woman in Austin, TX a friend and I once used as the star of a short film.
Next time you’re strolling in downtown Mesa, be sure to checkout these scholars.
I took all of the photos in this post.