Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2015

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Best Of :: Megalopolitan Life

Best Use of Canals for Something Other Than Transporting Water

Once locals thought of canals simply as a means to transport water to and fro, but Scottsdale Public Art has built a solid case in recent years for the role of canals in engaging diverse members of the community in a host of issues and experiences. Most recently, it has presented Canal Convergence 2015, a four-day event held along the banks of the Arizona Canal at the Scottsdale Waterfront. The free event drew people of all ages who enjoyed installations of public art, dance performance, live bands, readings by local storytellers, art vendors, and assorted food and drink. Folks from Scottsdale and beyond hit the canal area, where local artists "Mimi" Shirley Jardine engaged them in collecting small bits of litter for reuse in artwork, and Erin V. Sotak donned her tricycle to engage them in thinking about responsible water use. Saskia Jorda's bird-themed installation raised awareness of the ways human use of resources impacts wildlife. Two art installations were placed atop the water. By using the canal and its surrounds, Scottsdale Public Art is facilitating important dialogue while giving people fun interactive experiences — showing the creativity it takes to keep digital devotees engaged in up close and personal arts and culture.

www.scottsdalepublicart.org

Northeast corner of Scottsdale Rd and Roosevelt St., Scottsdale, 85257
MAP
Best Escape

We'd like to think that someday Arizona will declare February 26 "Llamas on the Loose Day." Because who, after all, can forget the afternoon earlier this year when two of these giant furry creatures escaped from their Sun City home and tore through the streets of the West Valley, overturning cars and starting trash-can fires and riots? Okay, so maybe the llamas didn't terrorize the quiet streets of Sun City, but given the viral attention they received, you'd be forgiven for thinking they had. Within minutes of their escape, the two became a global Internet sensation. People across the country stopped whatever they were doing and watched the live-stream feed with bated breath. They inspired hashtags, GIFs, even a Buzzfeed quiz. Sheriff Joe's men put up a good fight, but they were no match for the llamas, who managed to run across busy streets uninjured for an hour. When the smaller of the two was finally lassoed, the larger one darted away. She evaded capture for another 15 minutes before finally succumbing, sadly ending what arguably was the most exciting event of the year. Follow them on Twitter: @SunCityLlamas.

Best Cape

When Tania Katan left her museum gig to go to work for a tech firm in North Scottsdale, there was a lot of head-scratching among members of the arts community. What was the writer/playwright/funny girl/creative dynamo going to do at a tech firm? Turns out, a whole lot. Within her first year, Katan had launched a simple but incredibly effective campaign called "It Was Never a Dress," turning the ubiquitous ladies room icon on her ear, explaining that her dress is really a cape and encouraging girls to consider a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Demand for stickers and T-shirts was immediate, and social media gobbled up the whole thing, millions of times over. We can't wait to see what Katan has up her sleeve, er, cape next.

www.itwasneveradress.com
Best Space Explorer

THEMIS, or, as its creators at Arizona State University call it, the Thermal Emission Imaging System, made its 60,000th trip around Mars this year. The infrared camera, which has been hitchhiking aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey since 2001, has taken nearly 400,000 images of the Red Planet. In the process, it has saved a landing rover from dashing to pieces in a field of giant boulders by finding it a safe place to set down, and it has helped scientists discover old lakes and gullies carved by melting snow, among other things. You can see what THEMIS sees in real time on ASU's website. Watching the cratered landscape roll by is surreal.

201 East Orange Mall, Tempe
480-965-1790
www.themis.asu.edu
Best Month

May 2015 will go down at the wettest month on record in the United States, and the second-wettest for Arizona, with well over an inch of rainfall recorded. Here in Phoenix, we just called it heaven — a month filled with wind, rain, and unseasonably cool temperatures. By the end of May, temperatures in the Valley were well over 100 degrees, but given that summer typically starts in March around here, we were okay with that.

Best Name

It's the line reporters had itched to write from the time the Phoenix Open was renamed. "There was a waste management problem at the Waste Management Phoenix Open," belted out a lede in the Arizona Republic. Ick. Apparently, a porta-potty leaked raw sewage in puddles near the "Fry's Fan Zone" at Arizona's signature annual golf event, one of the largest in the country. It smelled, people walked through it, and it took hours to clean up. Not exactly a hole-in-one from a public relations standpoint or a fun time for event-goers. But a great lede.

17020 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale, 85255
MAP
480-585-4334
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Best Use of Canals for Something Other Than Transporting Water: Scottsdale Public Art

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