An impressive roster of local and international artists will fill the Scottsdale Waterfront with visual and performance art inspired by the marriage of water and light during this month’s Canal Convergence.
Presented by Scottsdale Public Art, the 10-day event promises a wealth of outdoor arts experiences, including live music, dance, poetry, and large-scale art installations. But the lineup also includes an intriguing mix of artist talks, urban art installations, and art tours.
Canal Convergence has its roots in an early 2013 mix of art and maintenance, created through a partnership between Scottsdale Public Art and Salt River Project (SRP). When SRP drained the Arizona Canal along the Scottsdale Waterfront for routine maintenance, Scottsdale Public Art treated the canal as a canvas and stage for visual and performance artists.
It started as a two-day affair, but it’s continued to evolve over time. This year, it has expanded to include light-based installations by local artists, which are situated around Old Town Scottsdale. Next year, it will expand into north Scottsdale, with a large-scale, water-inspired installation by Phoenix-based artist Ann Morton, which will be situated in the desert near Taliesin West.
Of course, there’s plenty of additional art in Scottsdale, so consider leaving some extra time to check out offerings at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, and Old Town galleries concentrated along Main Street and Marshall Way. This month's gallery offerings include Christine Cassano artworks at Gebert Contemporary and Cam DeCaussin artworks at Royse Contemporary, to name just a few.
With so much going on, we figured you could use a little help with making the most of it all.
There’s nothing wrong with simply showing up and taking it all in, but we’ve got the rundown on what’s happening when, in case you’re keen on planning ahead to be sure you hit all the high points. Start by marking your calendar for Friday, November 9, through Sunday, November 18, when Canal Convergence 2018 takes place.
Location: Canal Convergence happens along the Scottsdale Waterfront, which runs on a diagonal along Scottsdale Road between East Camelback Road and Marshall Way. The Main Stage is situated on Soleri Plaza near the intersection of Scottsdale and Camelback. The Goldwater Stage is situated on the canal between Goldwater Boulevard and Marshall Way. Another event hub, the Marshall Way Bridge, is located near the intersection of Scottsdale and Marshall Way. Check the online Canal Convergence map for details before you head out.
Getting Around: Parking is available on the street and in nearby public parking garages. Free Scottsdale Trolleys run every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 9:25 p.m. daily, and there's a designated pickup and drop-off area for Lyft riders attending the event. The area also has an abundance of rental bikes and scooters, but you'll need to bring your own helmet.
Hours: Hours vary by day, so be sure you check the daily schedules online before you head out.
Cost: Most Canal Convergence offerings are free, with a few noteworthy exceptions. Bring money for food and drinks, of course. And having a little extra for buying art, souvenirs, or holiday gifts never hurts.
Launch Party: You can attend a free launch party featuring the New Orleans-based Dirty Dozen Brass Band, which happens Thursday, November 8, at 5 p.m. on the Soleri Plaza. The Sara Robinson Band will open the show. Local food trucks will be on hand, and the Two Brothers Beer and Wine Tent will be open. The launch also includes the first firing of Walter Productions’ Floatus installation atop the Arizona Canal.
Food: Two Brothers Tap House and Brewery is presenting its Beer, Wine and Food Garden on the Soleri Plaza. Look for various food trucks and coffee, as well. Several eateries and bars are located within walking distance of the Scottsdale Waterfront.
Art Installations/Artist Talks: Find art installations, including several with interactive components, located along the Scottsdale Waterfront throughout Canal Convergence. Also look for Local Light artworks by eight Phoenix-based artists including Lily Reeves and Craig Randich, which are installed throughout Old Town. Here's a rundown of the large-scale art installations, along with days their creators are presenting artist talks and workshops:
Artist Reception/Art Viewing: 5:30 p.m. Friday, November 9, at Andaz Scottsdale Resort, 6114 North Scottsdale Road. RSVP required. Includes artist reception with cash bar, plus on-site artist talk.
Choi + Shine Architects invited locals to participate in creating a giant hand-crocheted lace ribbon, which will be installed over and around the Arizona Canal. The ribbon, which measures 650 feet long and 8 feet wide, is interspersed with pieces crocheted by more than 100 people in Arizona, who got involved after the artists put out the call during February’s Canal Convergence. Artists Jin Choi and Thomas Shine have offices in Boston, London, and Seoul.
Artist Talk: 5 p.m. Saturday, November 17, West Canal.
Workshop: Floatus Workshop with The Walter Hive. 6 p.m. Saturday, November 17, West Canal
Phoenix-based Walter Productions will float 12 polished aluminum lotus sculptures, premiered during last year’s Lost Lake Festival, atop the Arizona Canal. Each lotus reflects the daytime sun, then glows with colorful LED lights at night. And each has a flame feature, so Walter Productions will enhance the installation with 28 fire shows during Canal Convergence. The lotus flowers were built in the Walter Productions studio in Scottsdale, where they also operate an art gallery. During Canal Convergence, they will have colored flames for the first time.
Artist Talk: 7:15 p.m. Friday, November 9, at Canal Convergence Storefront, 7035 East Fifth Avenue.
Workshop: Floret: Playing with Air with Koros Design. Saturday, November 10, 4:30 p.m. Workshop Roundabout. RSVP required.
Hungarian artist Peter Koros with Budapest-based Koros Designs is showing a 15-foot-tall inflatable light sculpture that references a blossoming flower. Its petals remain closed until people step on pressure pads that surround it, which causes the piece to bloom in an array of illuminated colors. The installation premiered in June at the Zsolnay Light Festival in Budapest.
Artist Talk: 7:30 p.m. Friday, November 16, at Greey Pickett, 7144 East Stetson Drive, #205.
Montreal-based ATOMIC3 and APPAREIL Architecture are showing a work meant to reflect the lifespan of an iceberg, from its creation to eventual melting. Created in collaboration with Jean-Sébastien Côté and Philippe Jean, it’s a series of 14 illuminated metal arches arranged to form a tunnel. When people pass through each arch, it activates variations of light and sound. The piece was originally created for the Montréal en Lumière festival.
Artist Talk: 7 p.m. Saturday, November 10, at Canal Convergence Storefront, 7035 East Fifth Avenue.
Philadephia-based Klip Collective has created a mirror sculpture that reflects the daytime landscape, but transforms at night to infuse its surroundings with light, color, and movement. The piece also includes video projections onto a canopy of trees, accompanied by ambient sounds. Klip Collective’s Electric Desert is currently on view at Desert Botanical Garden.
Artist Talk: 6 p.m. Sunday, November 11, at Canal Convergence Storefront, 7035 East Fifth Avenue.
Workshop: Butterfly Autonoma with Skunk Control. 5 p.m. Monday, November 12, at Canal Convergence Storefront, 7035 East Fifth Avenue.
Australia-based Skunk Control, based at Victoria University in Melbourne, created a kaleidoscope of 30 mechatronic butterflies with translucent wings, which cast colorful shadows by day. With wingspans ranging from 20 to 35 inches, the butterflies become illuminated at night through diffraction, revealing colors that vary depending on the viewer’s location.
Artist Talk: 5:30 p.m. Friday, November 9, at Greey Pickett, 7144 East Stetson Drive #205.
A Montreal-based production company called Ekumen is presenting an illuminated musical installation designed by Olivier Girouard, Jonathan Villeneuve, and Ottoblix, in collaboration with three additional designers. The installation comprises a series of six cylinders that measure 6.5 feet in diameter, which collectively create what designers call “a cross between a music box, a zoetrope, and a railway car.” Visitors sit inside the installation, then pull levers together to create music and still images inspired by 13 fairy tales.
Artist Talk: 4:30 p.m. Saturday, November 10, at Canal Convergence Storefront, 7035 East 5th Avenue.
Pennsylvania-based artist Toby Atticus Fraley created an installation with eight cacti containing LED lights. Visitors can activate musical tones and illumination by placing magnets on various segments of a rotating drum, thus creating their own musical light patterns.
Artist Talk: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, November 17, at Canal Convergence Storefront, 7035 East Fifth Avenue.
Workshop: Rewinding Waste with Martin Taylor of Re-Cyclone. 2 p.m. Sunday, November 11, West Canal.
Martin Taylor and San Francisco-based Chromaforms Art Collective are showing a rotating sculpture created with 5,000 upcycled water bottled formed into a tornado shape. LED lights illuminate the sculpture, which is 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide, when rotated by event-goers.
Artist Talk: 6:15 p.m. Friday, November 16, at Marshall Way Bridge.
Boston-Based Masary Studios created in interactive light and sound instrument using 25 blocks that serve as musical nodes. When visitors move them, the blocks light up and emit various sounds, allowing people to create physical and sonic structures together.
More Artist Conversations
Arizona Talks Public Art Panel
6 p.m. Tuesday, November 13, at the Soleri Stage, West Canal near Scottsdale Road.
A panel of creatives discuss the purpose, value, and benefits of public art.
Sustainability in Art
5 p.m. Thursday, November 15, West Canal (at Re-Cyclone).
Martin Taylor of the Chromaforms Art Collective will discuss sustainability through upcycling as a means of addressing environmental challenges.
Canal Convergence includes three types of tours, which typically run 45 to 75 minutes. Guests are asked to arrive 15 minutes in advance with comfortable walking shoes and a reusable water bottle. RSVPs are required for the SRP Canal History Tour and Scottsdale Public Art Tour.
Canal Convergence Art Tour
6, 7, and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6 and 7 p.m. Sundays and Monday; 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Meet at the Canal Convergence Information Booth, 7135 East Camelback Road #195. Tour guides share information and insights about the event’s light-based installations.
Scottsdale Public Art Tour
6 p.m. Fridays, November 9 and 16 and Saturdays, November 10 and 17. Meet at the Canal Convergence Information Booth, 7135 East Camelback Road, #195. RSVP required. Explore public art located in Old Town, by artists ranging from Ed Mell to John Randall Nelson.
SRP Canal History Tour
5 p.m. Sunday, November 11; 4 p.m. Monday, November 12; 5 p.m. Thursday, November 15; 3 p.m. Saturday, November 17. Meet at the SRP Tent. RSVP required. Join Salt River Project experts for a walking tour along the Arizona Canal, which covers the history and creative engineering behind the area’s canals.
Poetry Bike Ride
4 p.m. Sunday, November 11. Meet at the Goldwater Stage. RSVP required. A trio of local poets are leading a family-friendly bike ride around Old Town Scottsdale. Then they’ll add lines of poetry written by participants during the ride to a poem being read at that night’s poetry event.
Night Lights Bike Ride
6 p.m. Tuesday, November 13. Meet at The Scott Resort & Spa, 4925 North Scottsdale Road. 6 p.m. Sunday, November 18. Meet at the Soleri Stage. Don your glow-in-the-dark clothing adorn your bike with colorful lights for a bike ride that includes a tour of public art in Old Town and a ride past the Scottsdale Waterfront.
Look for live music on two stages, the Soleri Stage and the Goldwater Stage. Hours vary, but every day there’s live music happening from at least 5 to 8 p.m. Some days it kicks off at 4:30 p.m. and runs through 10 p.m.
The opening night lineup from 4:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday, November 9, includes The Arizona Trio, The Secret Destroyers,
Chilly Lopez Band, The Highest Conspiracy, Cameron DeGurski, and Mobile Karaoke.
Canal Convergence includes more than a dozen additional bands, plus-on stage storytelling and poetry performance. Look for mixed media artist Joe Willie Smith performing on the instruments he makes from found objects at 5 and 7 p.m. on Sunday, November 11, on the Goldwater Stage.
Canal Convergence dance offerings feature Phoenix-based choreographer and dancer Nicole L. Olson, who received the both the Phoenix Mayor’s Arts Award for Dance and Phoenix New Times’ Best Dancer Award in 2016. She’ll perform both Saturday nights, on the Marshall Way Bridge.
6:30, 7, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 10. Created by Nicole L. Olson in collaboration with Ryan Edwards of Masary Studios, this piece includes three expressive and athletic vignettes performed by dancers including Olson in response to the light-based artwork Sound Sculpture.
Growth of Flowers
7 p.m. Saturday, November 17. Donning costumes embellished with 3-D-printed flowers and LED lights, dancers including Olson will present a 20-minute light and movement installation that explores the relationship of human growth and development to plants giving rise to flowers. Arrive by 6:30 p.m. if you also want to see five dancers perform a 20-minute focused improvisation.
The art experience lineup ranges from fire performance to live mural painting. Here’s a look at several of your options. Some happen more than once, so we’re noting your first chance to see them.
Floatus Fire Performance. 5 p.m. Friday, November 9, West Canal.
Glow Tunnel Art with Scottsdale Artists’ School. 6 p.m. Friday, November 9, Marshall Way Bridge Underpass.
Live Mural Painting with Kyllan Maney. 6 p.m. Friday, November 9, at Workshop Roundabout.
Community Art with Scottsdale Artists’ School. 2 p.m. Sunday, November 11, at Workshop Roundabout.
Screen Printing with Eli Richard. 4 p.m. Sunday, November 11, Lounge.
Canal Convergence includes more than 10 workshops with local and international artists, where you can explore creative takes on recycling, murals, composting, stencils, natural dying, collage art, and more. Most workshops are offered at multiple times, but here’s a look at your first chance to experience many of them. Please note that RSVPs are required in some cases.
Plein Air Club with Erika Lynne Hanson. 4:30 p.m. Friday, November 9, at the Lounge. RSVP required.
Vermicompost 101 with Michael Jennings. 5 p.m. Saturday, November 10, at the Workshop Roundabout.
Natural Dyes with Erika Lynne Hanson. 2 p.m. Sunday, November 11, at the Lounge.
Beat/Music Creation with AZ Beat Lab. 4 p.m. Sunday, November 11, at the Soleri Stage.
Live Mural Painting and Stencil Workshop. 5 p.m. Sunday, November 11, at the Workshop Roundabout.
Collage with Cut + Paste Phoenix. 5 p.m. Monday, November 12, at the Lounge.
Ground Stencil with Kyllan Maney. 5 p.m. Sunday, November 18, at the Workshop Roundabout.
Repurposed, LED-Illuminated Holiday Garlands with Ann Morton. 5 p.m. Sunday, November 18, at the Canal Convergence Storefront, 7035 East Fifth Avenue. RSVP required.
Fun and Games
Here’s a sampling of other Canal Convergence activities, including yoga. Some occur more than once, so we’ve noted your first chance to check them out. Some require RSVPs to attend.
Open Game Play with Laughing Dice Club. 4 p.m. Friday, November 9, at the Lounge.
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Yoga. 2 p.m. Sunday, November 11, at Marshall Way Bridge.
Mystery at the Canal. 5 p.m. Tuesday, November 13, at the Canal Convergence Information Booth, 7135 East Camelback Road, #195.
Color & Light with Skunk Control. 4 p.m.
Sunday, November 18, Stage 2 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. This event has been cancelled.
Canal Convergence. Friday, November 9, to Sunday, November 18, at the Arizona Canal in Old Town Scottsdale; canalconvergence.com. Free admission; some activities require RSVP.