We often say "our art is not complete until people have added themselves to it." With the Wet Wheel, that addition is unique and personal. When a rider or pedestrian enters the sculpture, they become the "hub" of the wheel, and tiny jets of water take the place of spokes. That’s right: the rider or pedestrian gets a short squirt of clean water from all directions.
The sculpture is a giant bicycle wheel on a walking/cycling path along the new Maclovio Barraza Parkway in downtown Tucson. The spokes of the wheel appear to be absent but when a cyclist rides through, water jets appear in the place of spokes and give the rider a quick burst of water. The water jets form a precise spoke pattern, and can be triggered by pedestrians also.
The concept for this sculpture came to me 12 years ago after a bike ride from my home to our studio. When I’d make that ride in the summer, I’d start in my outdoor shower so I was soaking wet, but by the halfway point, I was always dry and hot again. How wonderful, I thought, if there could be an opportunity to get squirted on hot days for riders who choose that. That’s exactly how it started – a purely selfish thought. Subsequent research showed that this location is far from splash pads and other opportunities to cool off. I showed the idea to my six year old son and he immediately got it. When I presented the concept to the selection committee and City officials they had the courage and humor to allow the project to go forward.
Downtown Links, Maclovio Barraza Parkway East of Stone Avenue, Tucson, Arizona
17’ wide x 14’ high
Stainless steel, recycled tires, electronics
Joseph O'Connell + Creative Machines