Culture News

Scottsdale Public Art Is Moving Its Iconic LOVE Sculpture

Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture is on the move in Scottsdale.
Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture is on the move in Scottsdale. Lynn Trimble
One of the most iconic sculptures in metro Phoenix will soon be on the move. It’s a giant LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana, which is part of the Scottsdale Public Art collection.

The sculpture will be relocated just 130 feet from its current location at Scottsdale’s Civic Center Mall, leaving a space just north of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for a spot to the east that’s closer to Scottsdale Civic Center Library.

It’s being moved by crane on the morning of Friday, October 12. That’s good news for people who love the artwork, which has been fenced off recently due to repairs taking place on the overpass where it was originally installed in 2002.

The aluminum sculpture, which weighs 3,800 pounds, was dedicated on October 13, 2002, during a ceremony attended by the artist. He first conceived the piece as a Christmas card in 1964.

Today, there are several editions of the LOVE sculpture, which measures 12 feet tall, 12 feet wide, and 6 feet deep. Scottsdale’s piece, purchased for $250,000 plus sales tax, was the first in a series of five in the colors red and blue.

The original sculpture, created in 1970, is installed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Other editions exist in several cities, including New York, London, Tokyo, and Jerusalem.

Through the years, Scottsdale’s LOVE sculpture has been a popular backdrop for photographs by both tourists and community members. “It’s been a real touchstone for people,” says Wendy Raisanen, curator of exhibitions and collections for Scottsdale Public Art.

Moving the piece will ensure that people can continue to enjoy it, even as repairs are taking place around its original site on an overpass for the Drinkwater Bridge. The bridge was built during the mid-1980s, but the city discovered damage in 2014, which was caused by water flowing under the deck.

click to enlarge Checking out Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture before the big move. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Checking out Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture before the big move.
Lynn Trimble
Earlier this year, inspections revealed large areas of loose concrete and deteriorating columns, so the city put an emergency closure in place. That’s why the LOVE sculpture is being relocated. Another work in the Scottsdale Public Art collection, Eli Richard’s Sun Lanterns, was previously removed and will be placed near Old Town galleries from October 25 to December 31.

The LOVE sculpture is just the latest Scottsdale artwork to require a crane. In September, Scottsdale Public Art used a crane to install a 26-foot white rabbit sculpture by John Randall Nelson on the corner of Indian School Road and Marshall Way.

Both sculptures will be on view this weekend, during a series of events called Scottsdale Celebrate ’68, including several taking place on the Civic Center Mall. They’re designed to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of both the Civic Center Library and Scottsdale City Hall.

The LOVE sculpture will be relocated again at some point, as part of renovations to the Civic Center Mall. Details about those plans have yet to be announced.

Wherever it’s located, Raisanen expects that the LOVE sculpture will continue to resonate with people.

“It’s a great reminder that in the '60s and '70s, when there was a lot of political and social unrest, there was also the idea that we need to emphasize love and peace,” Raisanen says.
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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