Mesa artist selected for light rail public art project
September 11, 2017
By Alison Stanton
Recently, the Valley Metro Rail Board of Directors named 14 artists who will create public art elements for the South Central Extension of the light rail line.
Zarco Guerrero, a sculptor, maskmaker and performance artist from Mesa, was one of the 14 selected to work alongside Valley Metro, the City of Phoenix and the community.
Guerrero and the rest of the artists will create artwork that captures the history and culture of local neighborhoods. The art will be featured at stations and power facilities along the five-mile extension that goes along Central Avenue between downtown Phoenix and Baseline Road.
For Guerrero, art has been an important part of his life ever since he was a young boy growing up in Mesa.
“My father was a portrait painter and commercial artist and my mother was a dressmaker, so I was raised in a house full of creativity,” he said, adding that as a young boy, he recalls being very fascinated by the Yaqui mask dances in Guadalupe that are used for the Easter Ceremonies.
“Those images stayed with me all my life, and native art, particularly ancient Mexican art, are my main sources of inspiration.”
Throughout the course of his extensive career, which began in 1972, Guerrero has received a number of prestigious awards and international acclaim.
In 1985, PBS broadcast a one-hour documentary about his artwork titled “The Mask of El Zarco.” He has also received the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award, the Artistic Excellence Award from American Hispanics in Higher Education and the Esperanza Teacher of the Year Award, among many others.
Residents of and visitors to Mesa may be familiar with some of Guerrero’s work – he has done artistic projects at El Rancho Del Arte and one of the walls at República Empanada.
Guerrero said he was “extremely surprised and delighted” to learn that he was selected as one of the 14 artists to work on the light rail art project.
“I hope I was selected because of my reputation and quality of my work and experience,” he said.
“It’s nice to have an artistic home away from home in Phoenix.”
After learning he had been selected, Guerrero got busy thinking of ideas for the light rail art project.
“I have many ideas of what I would like to do, including a new series of geometric designs in laser-cut steel, ceramic relief murals and actual standing sculptural pieces cast in bronze, all of which will be expressive of our regional identity,” he said, adding that he will come up with a final design based on future meetings with the light rail design team of architects and engineers.
“I am looking forward to this large collaboration,” he said.
To learn more about Guerrero and see samples of his work, visit zarkmask.com.