Artist influenced by history of copper country

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Jerry Parra has lived in the Copper Corridor area all his life. He was born in the copper mining town of Tiger in 1951. He grew up in the Tri-Community area.

He and his wife Sue own the Ranch Store Center in Oracle where they have lived for over 27 years. The unique store is filled with antiques, resale items and Parra’s larger than life fabricated metal sculptures and yard art.

Much of Parra’s work is inspired by the history and people of Oracle and the Copper Corridor area. The Indians and their culture as well as the old west and of course mining can be seen in his work.

After all, a metal sculptor would not exist without mining. Without the mines, there would be no metal. =

Parra’s sculptures are made of recycled metal, wire, motor cycle and car parts, stainless steel and copper. Parra was fortunate to have been able to buy scrap metal from BHP when they closed down the mine and smelter.

He also purchased 32-ore cars and underground mining equipment. Many of these cars can be seen at the Ranch Store Center. An original metal sign made by workers at the Magma Mine underground blacksmith shop was salvaged.

One of Parra’s sculptures, “Mixed Cultures” uses copper that was mined, smelted and formed at the San Manuel mine, mill and smelter. This piece of art was influenced by different Native American cultures including Navajo, Zuni and Apache.

Mixed Cultures has been featured on Arizona Highways TV and displayed at the “Sculptures in the Streets” annual art show in downtown Mesa.

Parra also uses copper patina a chemical solvent which when painted on certain metals gives the appearance of corroded or antiquated copper.

Parra said he is a “self taught’ metal fabricator. He has been working with metal for around 15 years. He also works a full time job at a private prison facility, which handles immigration detainees for Homeland Security.

Since working there, he has not had as much time as he would like to devote to his artwork. Parra has also worked in mining. He worked for Cementation at Magma’s San Manuel underground mine.

He also worked in an iron ore mine in Michigan. His experiences working in the mines and visual memories of working underground can be seen in his art project that is part of the Copper Corridor’s “Ore Cart Trail.” The magnificent skeleton sculptures of mineworkers can be seen at the Miner’s Memorial in Mammoth, Arizona.

It is a wonderful tribute to those workers that lost their lives while working in the mines of the Tri – Community. As you can see, Parra’s art is not only influenced by working with copper but by the history, people and culture of the area known as the Copper Corridor.

You can view Parra’s artwork at the Ranch Store Center, 1015 American Avenue in Oracle, Arizona or visit his website at Parraparra.com.

To comment on this article and others  visit the Copper Area News Facebook or send us an email at CBNSun@MinerSunBasin.com

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