Traveling can be tough. But little things, like finding art installations and exhibitions, can make it a lot more enjoyable.
Next time your travels take you to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, allow some extra time to explore its many art offerings – in terminals, Sky Train stations, and the rental car center.
The airport's public art collection includes more than 900 works of contemporary art. Most are exhibited at Sky Harbor, though some are shown at Phoenix Deer Valley Airport and Phoenix Goodyear Airport. Artwork that's not on view is kept in storage.
Portable pieces, site-specific installations, and architectural enhancements are included in the collection, which was purchased with funds from the Phoenix Aviation Department administered by the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture.
The majority of the airport's exhibited works are displayed in pre-screening areas, so you can enjoy them without passing through security. And much of the art at Sky Harbor is available for public viewing 24 hours a day.
Exhibitions at Sky Harbor International Airport often feature work renowned Arizona artists who work in painting, sculpture, photography, and several additional media. Here’s a guide to help you find your way to the airport’s art.
Sky Harbor Terminals
Terminal 2 is home to The Phoenix, a 1962 mixed-media work by Paul Coze. Comprising three panels and made with 52 different materials, the 16-by-75-foot mural depicts early Arizona inhabitants and industries.
You’ll also find “A Grand Ride: Photographs by Tom Brownold” in the pre-security section of Terminal 2. The exhibition explores the role of mules as means of transport for people and goods during the last 100 years in the Grand Canyon. It continues through summer 2018.
Terminal 3 art is undergoing some changes due to remodeling. Look for “Nature’s Materials: Fiber and Wood Art” in a gallery located past the security checkpoint on Level 4. It includes pieces by several artists who work with wool, silk, cotton, and wood – using techniques including weaving, quilting, and fabric collage. The exhibition continues through February 4, 2018.
Look for two more exhibitions while you're in Terminal 3, including "American Organic Architecture in Arizona: The Heritage of Frank Lloyd Wright," which is located before the security checkpoint. Once you pass through security, check out "Stories from a Local Community: Paintings by Frank Ybarra."
Terminal 4 is where you’ll find the Phoenix Airport Museum Gallery, which is showing “Art of the Ride” from November 18, 2017 to May 28, 2018. The exhibition reflects Arizona’s role as a cultural mecca for motorcycle biker communities. Exhibited works range from paintings to embellished bike parts. Take note, night owls and early birds — this gallery (located on Level 3) is only open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Several additional exhibitions are on view on Level 3.
You’ll find work by 35 emerging and established artists in eight display cases on the east and west ends. They’re all members of the Arizona Artists Guild, which was founded in 1928. These artists work in several media, including painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, fiber art, and printmaking. Featured artists include Lynda Burruss, Jules Gissler, Tess Mosko Scherer, Constance McBride, and Ann Osgood. The “Arizona Artists Guild Celebrating 90 Years” exhibition continues through May 13, 2018.
Head to the center of the terminal, near the food court, to explore “At Work in Arizona.” The exhibition includes photographs from Arizona’s first 100 years, curated by fine art photographer Marilyn Szabo. The images explore several sectors of the Arizona economy, such as mining, transportation, agriculture, the arts, and retail sales. It continues through April 1, 2018.
If you're traversing the International Walkway, linger a bit to enjoy the exhibition titled "Saguaro: Giants of the Arizona Landscape."
There’s also art on Level 2, where you’ll spot an exhibition called “A Shared Passion” that's on view in several display cases. The exhibit includes a diverse assortment of ceramic work by artists based in several states. Arizona artists include Nicholas Bernard, Esmeralda DeLaney, John Higuchi, Les Lawrence, and Farraday Newsome. That show runs through summer 2018.
Pro tip: Keep an eye out whenever you’re walking through the airport, since several works from the museum’s collection dot the walls. Recently, the museum added “Artist Spotlight” vignettes that showcase artists working in various media. Currently, they’re showing prints by Luis Jimenez, photographs by William Lesch, and fiber art by Carol Shinn.
Sky Train Stations
The 44th Street Station has a ground-floor atrium, where you’ll find Blue Stratus, a 150-by-40-foot ceiling installation by Mario Madayag and Michael Parekowhai with Paul Deeb. It comprises steel and 6,610 aluminum reflector panels painted with six shades of blue, plus LED lights placed above to create “a slowly changing tableau of color.”
Inside this station, you’ll find two terrazzo floors. Daniel Martin Diaz’s Journey Through Nature is located on the pedestrian bridge, and Fausto Fernandez’s Tailplane Patterns is located on the station platform. Diaz used 10 colors to create a mandala, flowers, and vines within aggregate that contains recycled glass, abalone shell, and native desert stones. Fernandez used 10 colors to create rhythmic geometric patterns within aggregate that contains recycled crushed glass and mirror.
The East Economy Station has its own terrazzo masterpiece, Anne Coe’s Topo Magic, located on the station platform. Inspired by topographic maps she uses while hiking, Coe used 11 colors to “depict rivers, canyons, farm fields, and mountains in a whimsical landscape of wiggling shapes and contours.”
The Terminal 3 Station has two terrazzo floors by Janelle L. Stanley — one located on the station platform, and another on the bridge connecting the station to the terminal. Haak’u/Acoma Connection was inspired by traditional Haak’u/Acoma pottery and a “treasured family turquoise brooch.” Diné/Navajo Connection references traditional basketry and weaving forms.
The Terminal 4 Station is home to a pair of Daniel Mayer works. His Variable Order terrazzo floor is located on the station platform, and his Trace Elements stained-glass murals are located on the pedestrian bridge. Each of the two 115-by-9-foot murals consists of 28 laminated glass panels with a leaf motif. His eight-color floor includes recycled crushed mirror, as well as blue and clear glass. Inspired by letterpress printing, Mayer embedded 1,000 metal letters with a lower-case Garamond italic typeface – and included the two handwritten phrases: “timeless is the open” and “limitless is the open.”
Phoenix Rental Car Center
The rental car center features 82 works of art. Which means you’ll have to arm wrestle your travel-mate to decide who gets to take it all in — and who has to brave the rental car line.
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Most impressive is Ed Carpenter’s Crosstitch, a dichroic glass installation that plays off natural light to create an ever-changing wash of colors and patterns. But don't miss five large scale ceramic works by Jun Kaneko, whose dango sculptures reference the shape of Japanese dumplings.
Off the center’s lobby are four hallways displaying work by several artists.
Most of these pieces depict natural subjects: a creek, wildflowers, trees, wash, leaves, a bird, or a canyon. Many of these works are linoleum-cut prints by Andy Chuka. Other media include tin collage, oil on paper, woodcut print, digital photographic print, monoprint intaglio collage, watercolor, oil on board, and pictorial weaving.
For more information on the Airport Art Collection and information about submitting your work for consideration, visit the Phoenix Airport Museum website.