We spotted these feathered friends from afar just as spring was turning to summer — but there was no outdoor trekking required. Local artists Koryn Woodward Wasson and Jamie Chandler created a 10-part series of portal birds, multimedia collaborative artworks for the exhibition "Fireweather: The Dark Forest of Crystal Burn," which also included an installation by Roy Wasson Valle. The show took place in Tucson, but this flock of birds, a stunning combination of vibrant watercolors by Wasson and geometric embroidery work by Chandler, had us swooning over social media and wishing we could fly south. Each piece depicts a pair of mirrored birds: one from the Sonoran Desert and one from the fictional realm of Crystal Burn. We're still holding out hope that the art will migrate up to the Valley so we can get a closer look at those tail feathers.

www.squareup.com/market/fireweatherstudio

Best Hidden Gem That You'll Likely Never See

Roden Crater

In the 1970s, big-name artist James Turrell made an enviable land purchase — an extinct 400,000-year-old volcanic crater about 40 miles outside Flagstaff. His vision: a naked-eye observatory and a long-lasting tribute to the desert. For decades, Turrell has wowed audiences around the world with massive installations using light and physical space. What is known about Turrell's art project/world-wonder-in-progress is the stuff of legend in the art world — mostly because very few have been invited to see it. In the Roden Crater, Turrell's apparently been building tunnels and a massive atrium that will act as both an observatory of the desert sky and as a space that captures natural light "linking visitors with the celestial movements of planets, stars, and distant galaxies." Far out.

www.rodencrater.com

Best Use of Canals for Something Other Than Transporting Water

Scottsdale Public Art

Once locals thought of canals simply as a means to transport water to and fro, but Scottsdale Public Art has built a solid case in recent years for the role of canals in engaging diverse members of the community in a host of issues and experiences. Most recently, it has presented Canal Convergence 2015, a four-day event held along the banks of the Arizona Canal at the Scottsdale Waterfront. The free event drew people of all ages who enjoyed installations of public art, dance performance, live bands, readings by local storytellers, art vendors, and assorted food and drink. Folks from Scottsdale and beyond hit the canal area, where local artists "Mimi" Shirley Jardine engaged them in collecting small bits of litter for reuse in artwork, and Erin V. Sotak donned her tricycle to engage them in thinking about responsible water use. Saskia Jorda's bird-themed installation raised awareness of the ways human use of resources impacts wildlife. Two art installations were placed atop the water. By using the canal and its surrounds, Scottsdale Public Art is facilitating important dialogue while giving people fun interactive experiences — showing the creativity it takes to keep digital devotees engaged in up close and personal arts and culture.

www.scottsdalepublicart.org

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