The city of Phoenix claims that it will save the 51-year-old mural at Sky Harbor's doomed Terminal 2, but that won't be easy.
As former New Times scribe Dewey Webb detailed in a 1992 article about a previous plan to move the treasured Phoenix artwork, the 16-foot-high, 75-foot-long mural by the late Paul Coze is like a puzzle with no instructions for taking it apart or reassembly.
But Phoenix expects to close Terminal 2 in five years, so something will have to be done if the public's to see it again after that.
Plans to close Terminal 2 have been floating out there for a while, but now Phoenix is moving forward with its $500 million expansion plan that includes the closure.
Terminal 2 is our favorite, and we'll be sad to see it go. Though the terminal looks its age, parking across the street from check-in is awesome. It's a homier experience to depart or arrive from Terminal 2, with less walking than the modern, spacious Terminals 3 and 4. And the artwork is great.
As writer Robrt Pela detailed in our recent Best of Phoenix edition, the mural consists of three panels: The Earth, Water and Fire, and The Air.
Webb's 21-year-old article says the three-dimensional mural is probably the most-seen piece of art in the Phoenix metro area.
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"The mural (currently valued at $75,000 for insurance purposes) combines paint, plastic, broken shells, glass, petrified wood, seaweed, sand, and turquoise -- 52 materials in all, one for each week of the year," Webb wrote.
Clearly, moving the thing won't be cheap. And, as the article suggests, there's the question of where to put it. The '60s-era piece won't look fashionable juxtaposed with any modern design.
Our guess: When Terminal 2 closes, the artwork will be left there in the dark until people forget about it, when it can be safely demolished with the rest of the building.