| Art |

Pete Deise Just Created Phoenix's First Shipping Container Sculpture

Pete Deise working to shape metal spirals cut from a shipping container.EXPAND
Pete Deise working to shape metal spirals cut from a shipping container.
Randy Slack
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Maybe you’ve seen Phoenix artist Pete Deise sporting a pink hardhat lately. He’s been spending a lot of time at the corner of First and Garfield streets, decked out in safety gear while transforming a shipping container into a giant work of art.

The sculpture is part of a marketplace made entirely of shipping containers. It’s called The Churchill, after the Evans Churchill neighborhood where it’s located. The marketplace is set to open later this year, and will include both retail and food offerings. But the sculpture's big reveal is happening tonight, May 4, during the First Friday art walk.

The sculpture is called When Our Worlds Collide, for a couple of reasons.

The title references the ways atoms collide in particle accelerators. But it’s also an homage to the evolving urban landscape in Roosevelt Row. “I just really got inspired by how the area is mixing the old and the new,” he says. “I wanted to convey the idea of mashing worlds together.”

Deise pitched the idea to Local Studio about a month ago, after returning from a trip to Cabo San Lucas. The Phoenix-based firm has been working with The Churchill developers Kell Duncan and Hartley Rodie on designing and building the marketplace.

Pete Deise's sculpture towers over The Churchill in Roosevelt Row.EXPAND
Pete Deise's sculpture towers over The Churchill in Roosevelt Row.
The Churchill

“I’d seen a shipping container turned upward,” Deise says. “I just had this crazy idea while I was surfing in Cabo.”

Deise recalls making a series several years ago with linear works that looked like strips of paper. He imagined doing something similar with the metal shipping containers, by cutting designs but leaving pieces attached to the structure rather than discarding them.

“I wanted to reuse the material and form it into a semi-kinetic structure,” Deise says. “I saw it as a childlike fantasy project.”

Deise started by drawing sketches and making models with thick cardstock, then getting his design approved.

Local Studio enlisted a team to help him execute the project. They provided tools like the plasma cutter used to cut Deise’s designs, and the lift that carried him to the taller parts of the piece.

The shipping container is 20 feet high, and its four walls measure 8 1/2 feet each. It’s placed atop a horizontal shipping container, which gives it even more height.

Here's what it takes to create a towering shipping container sculpture.EXPAND
Here's what it takes to create a towering shipping container sculpture.
Pete Deise

The project is a first for Deise, in more ways than one.

“It’s my first team collaborative project,” Deise says. “I got to work as a conductor, and I felt like I was performing on a stage every day.”

He started the piece on April 23, and documented the process on social media using photographs taken by friend and fellow artist Randy Slack. It’s mostly finished at this point, so Deise is getting back to solitary work inside his studio.

It’s clear he’s already missing the experience.

“This was such an adventure, and it’s been a fucking labor of love.”

He’s hoping people will stop by during the First Friday art walk on May 4, when he’ll be doing some finishing touches on the sculpture. It’ll be lit with shifting colors of LED lights come nightfall, when Deise hopes it’ll have a dramatic effect on those who see it.

“I want it to be magical,” he says.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.