7 Cool Things We Saw at Canal Convergence 2015 in Scottsdale

Truth be told, the coolest part about Canal Convergence 2015 was seeing people of all walks of life converge along the canal and surrounding parts to explore works of art and other cultural gems. For four days, from February 26 to March 1, the streets of downtown Scottsdale came alive with a steady stream of locals, tourists and part-timers who split the year between Arizona and colder parts of the country.

Art galleries with open doors and the new Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West, all located within walking distance of the event held along the Scottsdale Waterfront, added to the pulse of Scottsdale Public Art's four-day celebration. We hit the canal early and often, and found many cool offerings. These were our favorites.

See also: Artist Samantha Lyn Aasen on Vajazzling, the Absurd Expectations of Womanhood (NSFW)

Folks had fun watching The Art Forge cutting and painting rooms through small windows.
Folks had fun watching The Art Forge cutting and painting rooms through small windows.
Lynn Trimble

The Art Forge by Toby Fraley

Tucked between a bevy of white tents, we spotted the art bot with the vintage green vibe. Toby Fraley's The Art Forge, which puts a fun twist on the ways mass production, profit motive, and digital culture impact the contemporary arts scene, was our favorite find this time around.

Folks drop four quarters into a slot and insert a small wooden plank provided by the artist, then watch a series of three windows as The Art Forge does its work. One shows a stream of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram fodder that influences the custom art piece that eventually pops out the other end. The others reveal cutting and painting rooms, smaller than your average shoebox, where the planks get transformed into unique objects d'art. Artist-provided quarters saved the day for those who showed up coinless.

We saw several of the pieces that popped out of The Art Forge like items from a vending machine -- including a pair of teddy bears transposed over a galaxy and a vintage blue Motel 8 sign set against a bland gray horizon. The Art Forge was co-commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art and ASU Emerge, so you'll have another chance to see it during ASU's event this Friday, March 6.

Local artist "Mimi" Shirley Jardine rocking her TOER: To-Go Lid Division vibe.
Local artist "Mimi" Shirley Jardine rocking her TOER: To-Go Lid Division vibe.
Lynn Trimble

TOER: To-Go Lid Division by Shirley "Mimi" Jardine

We spotted the outdoor office for local artist Mimi Jardine's The Office of Environmental Responsibility, which consists of a simple table and two folding chairs, on a lush patch of grass that runs alongside the canal between the Marshall Way and Soleri Bridges. But most of the time, Jardine was out and about, donning white lab coat and clear protective gloves as she gathered bits of litter and playfully encouraged festival-goers to do the same.

Jardine pushed her shopping cart along canal pathways, inviting others to turn in bits of trash from pesky to-go cup lid to stray bits of paper or string. Those who did were asked to complete a simple form, then tape their submission to the form. They'll be rewarded down the road with a postcard from the artist. We happened on a turquoise piece of string, happily did our paperwork and left with a TOER sticker designed to look like a white plastic to-go lid. We'll be looking for that string down the road as Jardine transforms all this trash into of artwork.

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