Story by Tony Paniagua

If you're looking for something new to do in Southern Arizona, you may want to visit the "Metal Arts Village" in midtown Tucson where architecture and art are attracting drivers and pedestrians. The village is a collection of 12 studios on Dodge Boulevard just north of the Tucson Furniture District at Fort Lowell Road.

It's the idea of Tucson attorney Steve Kimble who got "bitten by the metal bug" and took a break from his practice to learn all types of welding. Now also an artist, Kimble bought the property in 2004 and has spent about $2 million on the project where he hopes to attract customers and visitors who are interested in anything to do with metal.

“Everybody from blacksmiths to foundries to welders to patina people to glass and metal people, all artists,” he says. Kimble is working with renowned artist LynnRae Lowe on the project and they already have other tenants including Genia Parker of Ochoa Stained Glass and artist at large Everett Grondin. Parker says the concept is especially important in today's tough economic climate. "In times like these this is a very exciting project and I am just thrilled that I have the opportunity to participate. We are collaborating in ways that I think are really important both in this economy and in terms of creating new ideas at a time when you know, people are struggling.“

Tenants are creating a working arts community but they'd also like their area to become an attraction for local or out-of-town visitors, and they hope it leads to more redevelopment in places like Dodge Boulevard in midtown Tucson.

“We want this to be a destination spot for you if want anything made out of metal, anything custom made, this is where you come cause no matter what you want there is somebody here who can make it for you," says Steve Kimble. The "Metal Arts Village" is working on several projects, including an outdoor sculpture garden.