Despite dark clouds overhead, the sun shone down on several hundred people gathered Saturday at Aztec Elementary School in north Scottsdale.
A mosaic mural, featuring a bright orange sun at the top, was unveiled during the school’s 10-year anniversary party on the campus, 13636 N. 100th St.
The celebration included singing children, a slide show of the school’s history, floating balloons and an appearance by Gov. Janet Napolitano. But the mural, hidden behind red curtains before its unveiling, will still be there after the last balloon has flown off.
It was the permanence of the project that prompted Dorothy Blaire to seek funding for it. Blaire, who has had three children at Aztec Elementary, acquired a $1,600 grant from the Arizona Council to the Arts and the Scottsdale Unified School District matched the amount. Blaire and school officials then hired Valley artist Kasha Banko to guide the eightweek project, finished only last weekend.
"It was a collaboration of the children, the art teacher and myself," Banko said.
About 600 students made the ceramic pieces that, when put together, create a scenic depiction of state history. The colorful mosaic incorporates Arizona’s five "C’s" of industry — cotton, citrus, climate, copper and cattle. Inscribed on many of the tiles are words about character, such as "courage," and "perseverance." At the base are pictographs — images used by cultures who lived here centuries ago, Banko said.