Best Anticipated Public Art (2008)

The as-yet unfinished sculpture by artist Janet Echelman for Civic Space Park

We've been thoroughly entertained by the ballyhoo surrounding the construction of a monumental $2.4 million dollar, wind-driven net sculpture designed by internationally renowned Boston artist Janet Echelman and inspired by the fleeting blossom of Arizona's singular saguaro. First, the sculpture is given the green light and contracted for by the City of Phoenix. Then, nefarious forces want to cancel the contract, supposedly because it won't be finished in time for the opening of Phoenix's light-rail project. After public outcry, the contract is reinstated (actually, it was never rescinded) and we are waiting with bated breath for Echelman's masterpiece to be unveiled with the opening of the light rail, which is woefully set back because of rail defects.

The sculpture's been called a massive sphincter, an upside-down cowpie, a floating jellyfish, an empty thought bubble, and "too arty," whatever that means. Will it actually look like cow poop or a large butthole? Or will it truly be iconic of our fair city and a cultural destination in its own right, as its supporters maintain? We can hardly wait for the finale of this ongoing public art soap opera.


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