Social Invertebrates in downtown Phoenix

A smiling bug sculpture greets pedestrians in downtown Phoenix.
There's a lot to see in the heart of downtown Phoenix, aside from towering new office buildings. One of our favorite sights sits in front of the Phoenix Convention Center -- a trio of adorable bug sculptures called "Social Invertebrates."

Yes, we said "adorable bug." While the three insects outside PCC (particularly the giant scorpion) are creepy crawlies we'd usually avoid in real life, these bronze sculptures by New York-based artist Tom Otterness are cartoonish and cute.

The "walking stick" bug
Otterness was commissioned to do this public art project in 2008, part of a larger public art display at Phoenix Convention Center, which we wrote about last summer. He's done extensive public commissioned art over the years for various cities, including New York City; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and even places in Puerto Rico and the Netherlands.

The scorpion
"Social Invertebrates" keeps with Otterness' quaint sculpture style. There are three bronze insects sculptures in all -- a "walking stick" bug, a millipede, and a scorpion. All are as large as a person, and each has a distinct face. The walking stick and millipede are both smiling, each with little bronze men in top hats perched atop their heads.

The millipede
The scorpion is making a rather goofy, pained face, and there are a couple different little bronze men doing various things around its head. Other details, like boots on the walking stick bug, make the sculptures well worth a closer look.

To see these bronze marvels in person, simply stop in front of the Phoenix Convention Center, on the corner of 5th and Washington Streets. The "Social Invertebrates" will be there, smiling and shining in the Valley sun.

The scorpion's face

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea