Here's Your Guide to Canal Convergence 2021 in Scottsdale This Month

Rendering for MASARY Studios' Say What You Will.
Rendering for MASARY Studios' Say What You Will. MASARY Studios
The annual festival Canal Convergence returns this month, with a mix of artwork, performances, and hands-on activities designed to highlight the intersection of water, art, and light.

It’s happening along the Scottsdale Waterfront from Friday, November 5, to Sunday, November 14. This year’s theme is Art and Technology.

Here’s a look at what to expect, including both live and augmented reality components. Some events are already selling out, so plan early to avoid disappointment.

Days/Hours: Most Canal Convergence programming takes place Fridays through Sundays, November 5 to 7 and November 12 to 14. The lineup starts at 6 p.m. those days, and runs through 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and through 9 p.m. on Sundays. Concerts happen every night from November 5 to 14, and public artworks can be viewed at any time during that 10-day period.

Location: Public artworks will be installed along the Arizona Canal and the Scottsdale Waterfront between Camelback Road and Goldwater Boulevard. Look for the concert stage on Soleri Plaza near Scottsdale and Camelback roads. There’s a Community Roundabout on the bridge and plaza at Marshall Way, where you’ll find an information booth and merchandise. The approximate address for the Community Roundabout is 7025 East Via Soleri Drive, Scottsdale.

Accessibility: Paved pathways line both sides of the Arizona Canal, making the entire event wheelchair accessible. You’ll find limited seating and benches at Soleri Plaza. The art installations span a distance of approximately three quarters of a mile.

Transportation and Parking: There are parking garages and parking spaces in the area. Organizers recommend using the address 7025 East Via Soleri Drive for rideshare drop off and pickup, then entering Canal Convergence at Marshall Way. You’ll find bike racks on the northwest side of the Community Roundabout on Marshall Way. In addition, there are buses and trolleys that cover the area.

Food and Drinks: There will be a beer and wine garden at Soleri Plaza, where you’ll also find assorted food trucks on the weekends. Look for The Chicken Coop November 5 to 7. Food truck options for November 12 to 14 include Hibotchibot, Lulu’s Italian Ice, and Mustache Pretzels.

Closing Bash: Tickets are $50 for this event, which happens at 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 13, in the outdoor VIP Lounge near the fountain between Camelback Road and Marshall Way.

click to enlarge Casey Farina's Time Stream will include augmented reality components. - CASEY FARINA
Casey Farina's Time Stream will include augmented reality components.
Casey Farina
Augmented Reality: Download the Hoverlay app if you plan to view augmented reality experiences using the +ScottsdalePublicArt channel. The augmented reality lineup includes AR artwork, a virtual tour highlighting Arizona Canal history and engineering, stories behind several works in the Scottsdale Public Art collection, artist talks, and an AR scavenger hunt.

Plan Ahead: Some workshops are selling out quickly, which means you might miss out if you wait too long to buy a ticket or make a reservation.

Cost: Most Canal Convergence offerings are free, but there are some exceptions. Bring money for food and drinks if you want to explore local eateries around Old Town, and don’t forget about money for buying local art, souvenirs, or holiday gifts.

Safety: Organizers recommend that participants bring a mask, maintain social distance, keep their hands clean, and practice kindness during the event.

Art Installations: Canal Convergence includes several light-based artworks, which you can find using the online map. Keep an eye out for other public artworks located in and around Old Town, which range from Ed Mell’s Jack Knife to John Randall Nelson’s One-Eyed Jack. Some have augmented reality components you can access during Canal Convergence.

click to enlarge Floom by Walter Productions will feature several fire shows. - REG MADISON PHOTOGRAPHY
Floom by Walter Productions will feature several fire shows.
Reg Madison Photography
Here’s a look at Canal Convergence artworks, organized primarily by location. Workshops being led by featured artists are noted along with descriptions of their work, although these events may sell out before November 5.

Between Goldwater Boulevard and Marshall Way

AeroGels by Roy Wasson Valle of Fireweather Studio (Phoenix)

Imagine being an artist on Mars in the year 2268 as you explore six stations with augmented reality components that suggest a positive, collaborative technological future filled with dreamers.

Entwined Meadow by Charles Gadeken (San Francisco)

Experience 10 sculptures that emit changing patterns and colors, created in part by participants who briefly control the artwork through augmented reality using a QR code at the site. You can experience this artwork through December 31.

Related Workshop: We Stand Together with Charles Gadeken on Saturday, November 7, from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $5.

by Walter Productions (Scottsdale)

Watch polished metal water lily sculptures with nighttime LED effects floating atop the Arizona Canal, where they shoot 30-foot flames into the air accompanied by a lively musical soundtrack.

Fire performances featuring Floom and a musical soundtrack happen nightly at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. On Fridays (November 5 and 12) and Saturdays (November 6 and 13), there is also a 9 p.m. performance.

Related workshops: Book Binding with The Walter Hive on Saturday, November 6, from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $15. Also Illuminated Watercolors with The Walter Hive on Sunday, November 14, from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Mini Nova
by Abram Santa Cruz/Liquid PXL (Los Angeles)

See four large-scale spherical sculptures set in the Arizona Canal create colorful animations using LED lights, taking inspiration from the geodesic spheres of dandelions.

Related workshop: What Makes Mini Nova Sparkle? on Saturday, November 6, from 8:45 to 9:45 p.m. Free.

click to enlarge Expect a different alternative world every time you open The DOOR(S). - PAUL MAGNUSON/B!G ART
Expect a different alternative world every time you open The DOOR(S).
Paul Magnuson/B!G ART

Near Marshall Way

Halo by illumaphonium (Churchstanton, United Kingdom)

See how nine 11-foot-tall stacks of illuminated halos emit different light and tones as participants touch the interactive artwork planned for the Marshall Way Bridge. Note: This installation is subject to shipping delays.

by Paul Magnuson/B!G ART (Calgary, Canada)

Experience a gateway to alternative realities in the form of a door that opens and closes to reveal a vast array of shifting imagery that challenges existing perceptions and expectations. Look for this installation at Marshall Way and Stetson Drive.

The Planets
by PITAYA (Lyon, France)

Watch the interplay of light create optical illusions through seven vertical sculptures made with mirrors that amplify visual effects typically experienced while viewing a disco ball.

Time Stream
by Casey Farina (Phoenix)

Interact with an eight-panel circular sculpture, as your body movements are projected into a virtual space where they affect a changing landscape inspired by biological forms.

click to enlarge Arc ZERO - Oculus rendering by James Tapscott. - JAMES TAPSCOTT
Arc ZERO - Oculus rendering by James Tapscott.
James Tapscott

Between Scottsdale Road and Marshall Way

Arc ZERO - Oculus by James Tapscott (Melbourne, Australia)

Feel an ethereal mist emanate from the Arizona Canal as a mixture of water and light created by a large-scale ring rhythmically rises up and disappears in a cycle of elegant eruptions.

Light Falls
by Vigas (São Paulo, Brazil)

Experience a 16-foot-tall waterfall-inspired installation with shifting light, color, and sound designed to replicate the organic flow of water while conveying its calming effects and impact.

Related workshop: LED Lantern with Vigas on Friday, November 5, from 7:15 to 9:15 p.m. Tickets are $30.

Mirage by Nancy Baker Cahill Studio (Los Angeles)

Watch imagery transform above the Arizona Canal as swirling droplets created using augmented reality rise towards an elusive hovering hourglass that releases falling grains of sand. You can experience this artwork through December 31.

Say What You Will by MASARY Studios (Boston)

See voices transformed into light and video abstractions displayed on six projection surfaces suspended over the Arizona Canal, as participants speak into stations along the waterfront.

click to enlarge Entwined Meadow by Charles Gadeken is one of many Canal Convergence artworks. - JONATHAN CONDIT
Entwined Meadow by Charles Gadeken is one of many Canal Convergence artworks.
Jonathan Condit

Additional Workshops

Scribble Bots
Fridays, November 5 and 12, 6:15 to 7 p.m.
Led by the Arizona Science Center
Tickets are $10

From Art to NFT
Led by Rembrandt Quiballo
Sunday, November 7, 8 to 9 p.m.
Tickets are $10

Site-Responsive Sonic Art
Led by Lauren Sarah Hayes
Thursday, November 11, 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.
Tickets are $15

Led by Kendra Sollars
Thursday, November 11, 8 to 9 p.m.
Tickets are $10

Inspire Future Drone Design!
Led by Alejandra Rodriguez Vega
Saturday, November 13, 6:15 to 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $10

Sonic Found Object Sculptures
Led by Joe Willie Smith
Saturday, November 13, 8 to 9:45 p.m.
Tickets are $20

Act One: Arts Immersion: Freedom in Expression
Sunday, November 14, 5:15 p.m.
Tickets are $10

Digital Robotic Systems
Led by Byron Lahey, Ph.D.
Sunday, November 14, 8 to 9 p.m.
Tickets are $10

Canal Convergence also has two Take-Home Workshop packets, which will go to the first 100 people to request them at the Innovation Zone between 6 and 9 p.m. Monday, November 8 to Wednesday, November 10. One packet is for a Moire Pattern workshop with Koryn Woodward Wasson; the other packet is for a Create a Discovery Journal workshop with the Walter Hive.

click to enlarge Nicole L Olson (center) during a previous Canal Convergence performance. - ANDREW PIELAGE
Nicole L Olson (center) during a previous Canal Convergence performance.
Andrew Pielage

Live Performances

Most performances feature live music by local bands, but the line-up also includes poetry and dance. Musical performances take place at the Soleri Stage on the Soleri Plaza.

NicoleOlson|MovementChaos will premiere Aura, a dance piece created for Canal Convergence, at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, November 6 at the Marshall Way Bridge. It’s also being performed at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, November 13.

Recently inaugurated Scottsdale Poet Laureate Lois Roma-Deeley will give a poetry reading at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 10 on the Soleri Stage.

During the first three-day weekend you can hear Blackbird (6:15 p.m.) and Treasurefruit (8:15 p.m.) on Friday night; Steel Dads (6 p.m.), Bluesman Mike and The Blues Review Band (7:15 p.m.), and Danielle Durack (8:30 p.m.) on Saturday night; and Mariachi Rubor (6 p.m.) and Nolan McKelvey Trio (7:30 p.m.) on Sunday night.

During the week, the lineup features the Zach Gillespie Trio (6 p.m.) and Moonlight Magic (7:30 p.m.) on Monday, Jenna Rae (6 p.m.) and Japhar Pullen (7:30 p.m.) on Tuesday, Ken Koshio (6:15 p.m.) and Kyle Mitchell (7:15 p.m.) on Wednesday, and Alexis Janae (6 p.m.) and the Salt River String Band (7:15 p.m.) on Thursday.

During the final three-day weekend you can hear Tindal Muzic (6 p.m.), NOLAZ Band (7:15 p.m.), and The Gaines Brothers (8:30 p.m.) on Friday; Courtney Cotter King (6 p.m.), Jimmy Pines and Washboard Jere (7:15 p.m.), and Outside the Line (8:30 p.m.) on Saturday; and Surfing Godzillas (6 p.m.) and the Betsy Ganz Trio (7:30 p.m.) on Sunday.

click to enlarge Mini Nova when it was part of Burning Man. - ABRAM SANTA CRUZ/LIQUID PXL
Mini Nova when it was part of Burning Man.
Abram Santa Cruz/Liquid PXL

ASU Activities

ASU Water Activities

Fridays to Sundays, November 5 to 7 and November 12 to 14, 6 to 10 p.m.
Explore the science of water sustainability through art inside an interactive, light-based inflatable dome. Free.
Tasting Water with ASU

Fridays to Sundays, November 5 to 7 and November 12 to 14, 7:10 to 8 p.m.
Improve your water tasting skills, learn to curate your own water, and be part of a related research project. You must be at least 15, and sign a consent form, to participate. Free.

More Old Town Art Offerings

If you’re looking for more ways to experience the Scottsdale arts scene, you’ve got several options — including exhibits at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, and Old Town galleries.

Check out Scottsdale Arts galleries inside Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and Scottsdale Civic Center Library, where you can see works by local artists. The free Scottsdale ArtWalk will be happening on Thursday, November 11, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Canal Convergence is scheduled for Friday, November 5, through Sunday, November 14. Most events are free but some require an RSVP or ticket. Visit
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble