Peoria, Arizona, September 10, 2007 – The
City of Peoria will officially dedicate the Peoria Pioneer Memorial at 9:00 a.m. Saturday,
September 22, 2007 in Oldtown Peoria at the southwest corner of 83rd Avenue,
Washington Street, and Grand Avenue. Gary Sandberg, a Councilmember from the
City of Peoria, Illinois, will attend the dedication ceremony to represent the
Peoria, Illinois-to-Peoria, Arizona connection.
Colorado artist Emanuel Martinez, who was selected in 2005 for
the project, created the memorial, which consists of a four-sided bronze
bas-relief sculpture that will serve as an entry feature to Oldtown at the
intersection of 83rd Avenue and Grand Avenue. Each side of the 13-foot
sculpture depicts various scenes including a farmer, a woman harvesting cotton,
a man herding sheep, and Peoria’s historic central school.
“The sculpture honors the contributions of the many pioneer
families who helped shape Peoria's future and its history,” says Vice Mayor
Vicki Hunt, who was instrumental in working with the various parties to make the
project a reality.
In 2004, civic and community leaders established the Peoria
Pioneer Memorial Committee, with the support of the Peoria Arizona Historical
Society, to create a Peoria Pioneer memorial. Long-time resident and civic
leader Priscilla Cook came up with the idea of the memorial several years ago.
“Most cities have similar memorials that recognize the founders
of those communities,” says Cook, who has lived in Peoria since 1929.
Over $50,000 was raised by the committee’s grassroots efforts
that included contributions from civic leaders, businesses, families, and
individuals in the community. The Peoria Arts Commission matched the $50,000
for a total project budget of $100,000.
During the summer of 2005, the Peoria Arts Commission began a
nationwide call to artists for the memorial project. The call to artists
generated 56 entries from artists as far away as New York City and Puerto Rico.
A selection committee was created and included Vice Mayor Vicki Hunt and former
Councilmember Pat Dennis, Peoria historian Priscilla Cook, arts commissioners
John Buonagurio and Maureen Flanigan, Peoria Arizona Historical Society
representatives Harold McKisson and Lee Turner, local artist Richard Acott,
community representative Ken Feldman, and City staff. After reviewing the
artists’ proposals and their previous public art projects, the selection
committee recommended Emanuel Martinez of Morrison, Colorado, to create the
Peoria Pioneer Memorial.
Artist Emanuel Martinez plans to install the sculpture on
Thursday, September 20, 2007. The sculpture will arrive from Colorado and then
a crane will lower the sculpture components onto a pad of structurally
reinforced concrete. Martinez and an associate will bolt the large-scale
sculpture and its structural frame one side at a time to the concrete.
A new plaza has been created for the Peoria Pioneer Memorial.
The plaza consists of trees, shrubbery, and planters with built-in seating, and
floodlights to illuminate the sculpture at night. The plaza area will contain
bricks with the family names of the original Peoria pioneers as well as the
names of donors who contributed money to the Peoria Arizona Historical Society
for the project.
For more information about the Peoria Pioneer Memorial project,
please contact Grady Miller, Communications and Public Affairs Director, at