It’s been more than three decades since artist Joan Waters moved to Phoenix, where she found landscapes and light that infused her large-scale abstract paintings with fresh perspective. But it was a battle with breast cancer that gave her time to reflect on her art practice, and a community college art class that equipped her with the skills to begin working with metals.
Today, Waters is one of several artists whose work is featured in a public art project that spans several metro Phoenix communities, including the city of Peoria, where her steel sculpture titled Totem: The Plant Princess sits outside the entrance to the Sunrise Mountain Library. It’s part of IN FLUX Cycle 9, the latest iteration of the project first launched in 2010
The project is particularly well-suited to the contemporary arts landscape, where most traditional art venues are temporarily closed due to COVID-19 public health concerns. Outdoor art installations are giving people a chance to experience art in new ways, and creating fun opportunities to learn more about the local artists who bring color and life to metro Phoenix communities.
Here’s a guide to the latest IN FLUX offerings, including details about where to find them.
Head to the southeast corner of Arizona Avenue and Boston Street to see Nick Rascona’s sculpture that references both the urban environment and the desert landscape, using unexpected forms to reflect the ways they interface. While you’re in the area, look for more public art along Arizona Avenue, and an exhibition space called Vision Gallery.
Two-Sided HeartRyan Shea
Look for Ryan Shea’s fluid heart sculpture at the entrance to Tempe Beach Park, which is located at 80 West Rio Salado Parkway. The artist conceived it as a two-sided heart that reflects what he calls “the stagnation and growth of interpersonal relationships.” Check out other works of public art that dot the park while you’re there, then head east on Mill Avenue if you want to explore a fun variety of downtown art installations.
You’ll find Eli Richard’s text-based installation at Daley Park, which is located at 1625 North College Avenue. The artist took inspiration from lyrics by David Bowie as he conceived the piece, which addresses the ways Tempe is evolving in the face of significant growth. While you’re there, check out Jake Early’s massive 2018 mural visualizing the history of Tempe.
#bluewingCherie Buck-Hutchison and Curtis Hutchison
Cherie Buck-Hutchison and Curtis Hutchison created this sculpture located on the northeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Oak Street. The husband-and-wife artist team took inspiration from various birds in art history, birds that populate the Southwest, and birds rooted in mythology. Look for another bit of public art, which references Scottsdale’s history, on the southeast corner of that same intersection.
Stored Echoes, Secondary Effusion, and To Atone
John David Yanke
A few years ago, John David Yanke was showing his sculptures made with mattress springs inside a Grand Avenue gallery space. Now, he’s showing two works made with the unconventional material, along with a third artwork, at Miller Plaza. It’s located on the northeast corner of Miller and Indian School roads, about a mile from Old Town Scottsdale.
Meditation on Fragmented SpaceDaniel Mariotti
Look for Daniel Mariotti’s sculpture on the northeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Roosevelt Street. Mariotti is one of several IN FLUX artists who holds a degree in a creative field from ASU. He’s inspired by science and philosophy, and notes that this piece was designed to instill a sense of wonder while taking viewers beyond the realities of their everyday experiences.
Three ArcsMatthew Baral
You’ll find Matthew Baral’s Three Arcs installed in the lobby for the main entrance to Glendale City Hall, located at 5850 West Glendale Avenue, making it the sole IN FLUX 9 artwork that isn’t located outside. Baral is both an artist and a physician, whose oak piece incorporates a trio of forms inspired by the fractals that give so many flora and fauna their visual appeal.
Birdsong for WillieJohn Randall Nelson
Artist John Randall Nelson has created several sculptures installed around the Valley, including the giant white rabbit called One-Eyed Jack that signals a section of Old Town Scottsdale that’s home to several art galleries. His Birdsong for Willie sculpture sits outside the Peoria Main Library located at 8463 West Monroe Street.
Totem: The Plant PrincessJoan Waters
Head to Sunrise Mountain Library, located at 21109 North 98th Avenue, to see Joan Waters' sculpture sitting outside. Like many of her pieces, this sculpture channels childhood trips to the Caribbean, where Waters embraced bright colors and the beauty inherent in exploring diverse perspectives.
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