Best Permanent Public Art 2022 | Industrial Pipewave | Megalopolitan Life | Phoenix
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Yes, it's still a dry heat. But you can dream of bountiful waves of water when you see this giant wave form made with salvaged industrial pipe. It's not a trip to the beach, but it'll help you imagine being there just long enough to break your laser focus on the sweltering heat. Beyond that, this elegant organic form pays homage to the value of reusing and recycling, which is something we could all do more of in our daily plastic-filled lives. Three small pieces that appear to rise out of the desert are also part of this installation, which calls to mind the early canal system built by the Hohokam. It's technically a temporary artwork because of the site where it's located, but it's permanent in our eyes and we hope it continues to surprise and delight the people who stumble on it for a long, long time.

Traditions sometimes taken for granted took on fresh meaning this year, amid the ongoing effects of COVID-19, which shifted the ways people enjoyed creative spaces such as performing arts centers. By teaming up to bring contemporary dance to a landscape filled with natural and built environments, these two creative organizations provided a way for audiences to explore both movement and architecture in an outdoor setting where they felt safe but also experienced the serenity of seeing art created in nature. The collaboration encouraged supporters of one art form to discover another, expanding their visions of how art in metro Phoenix can and should be happening. It also brought the return of dance to Taliesin West, where it's had a significant role in the past. And it gave dancers an opportunity to expand their thinking and feeling about connections between interior and exterior landscapes as they moved through the challenges of creative opportunities lost during the worst of the pandemic, thus creating fresh perspectives for moving forward.

Pop art icon Andy Warhol is often quoted as saying he had a social disease, meaning he had to go out every single night. Once you've been to the Walter Where?House, you get it. The 24,000-square-foot event space comes alive with light, color, music, dance, funky fashion, and all manner of creative merriment that makes you forget about any unpleasant realities clogging up your brain cells before you stepped inside. It's one of the places you'll find the massive Kalliope dance party machine that can blast 70,000 watts of audio along with lasers and flame effects that transform the space into an alternative reality of beats and bliss. It's also home to several large-scale art cars, jumbo versions of traditional games, walls of offbeat visual art by local creatives, and an outdoor area so you can enjoy the night sky while you take in all the electric, eclectic happiness of it all.

Scottsdale Public Art transformed the banks of a portion of the Arizona Canal between Scottsdale Road and Goldwater Boulevard into a light-filled interactive experience to rival any and all of the immersive indoor exhibitions that hit the city during the past year, giving people a chance to explore creations by local to international artists in an unconventional setting without having to pay a dime for the experience. From bundles of multicolored square lights positioned like bunches of flowers growing out of the ground to a light-shifting waterfall made with material that looked like fancy vacuum tubing, featured light-based artworks inspired playful conversations and a beautiful sense of community. At one space, people could walk under a giant arc. At another, they could open a door that revealed a changing selection of light-infused imagery. Taken together, these artworks powered the imagination of people young and old, reinforcing the ways that art can bring people together during even the most divisive of times.

There's an incredible sense of community that arises from spending time in this alley in the Coronado neighborhood, where one mural memorializes a child who bravely faced cancer and another honors one of the city's graffiti pioneers. The alley is home to a changing array of murals, including several by some of the city's most renowned artists. Whether you walk through the alley alone, or attend the annual mural festival during which new pieces take shape, you can tell these artworks reflect the heart of the city. Whether you're into music or animals or social justice or nature, you'll find something here that speaks to you. It's true that some murals make amazing selfie backdrops, but spending time in this space, it's very clear that these artists were working from a place of authenticity rather than trying to promote anyone's 15 minutes of fame.

You'll find the metro Phoenix's best drive-by art along a strip of 16th Street south of Thomas Road that's anchored by the mural-filled walls of renowned eatery Barrio Café. It's the canvas for a changing assortment of murals that range from stunning portraits to powerful calls for social justice. You'll find figurative and abstract murals by local and international artists all along this section of road. It's a great introduction to the city's thriving mural and street art scene, and there's even a walk-by gallery next to Barrio Café where you can see a changing exhibit of works by emerging and established artists simply by passing the storefront window that makes art accessible to anyone who wants to take it all in.

When First Friday rolls around, you only have a few hours to take in the city's creative side, whether you're looking for art exhibits, culinary fare, or ways to shop local. Grand Avenue is the place to be, because it's a walkable area filled with galleries, eateries, artist studios, and creative spaces where you can show off your local love. Outdoor art installations from murals to trees that have been yarn-bombed and decorated with playful plush animals make great backdrops for selfies or photos with your crew, and you never know when you might stumble on someone demonstrating skills like making a glass bong or using a vintage printing press — or get the chance to talk with one of Phoenix's amazing artists. Grand Avenue is the perfect place to hang with friends, take out-of-towners, or meet some fellow creative folk who share your love of all things quirky and off the beaten path.

Some remarkable things happened in 1922. Beloved comedic actress Betty White was born. Haribo invented the gummy bear. And the radio station KTAR was launched right here in Phoenix, making this its centennial year. It's changed owners and buildings through the years, but continued to deliver the news every day, keeping Phoenicians informed about politics, sports, culture, crime, education, the great outdoors, and so much more. In a day and age marked by fake news (and fake accusations of fake news), we take comfort in knowing this staple of the local news scene is still going strong, with broadcasts and podcasts that both enlighten and entertain.

Monique "Mo!" Rodriguez stands out from other on-air talents working the Valley radio dial — and not just because of her vibrantly colored hair. The Alt AZ 93.3 midday host is more charming and engaging than other local jocks, her jokes are funnier, and her quirky, self-effacing personality feels genuine. Between songs, her segments aren't filled with mindless chatter, as Mo! dishes on geeky topics during her "Nerdgasm News" segments or plugs upcoming shows by local bands. Her support for Phoenix's music scene doesn't end there. On weekends, she provides airplay to local artists during her Homegrown with Mo! show every Sunday evening, or occasionally can be found hosting events such as this year's Phoenix Rock Lottery at Crescent Ballroom or DJing at The Rebel Lounge's LGBTQ-themed Emo Pride Night. In an age when many DJs are just corporate radio automatons who just shill the latest hits, Mo! is a personality with a pulse and a passion for her city, on or off the air.

Aching to ogle at Arizona's craziest candidates ahead of November's general election? Pining for a preview of the Arizona Cardinals' season debut against the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs? Talk radio veteran Bill Brady says, "Why not both?" The Bill Brady Show airs every weekday afternoon from 5 to 7 p.m. on 1100 AM radio, so tune in on your drive home from work and enrich your day with what he calls "a return to common sense commentary." His instantly recognizable voice has graced the ears of Valley residents during interviews with everyone from CIA directors to sports greats such as NFL quarterback Johnny Unitas and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. Most recently, Brady has taken in-depth dives with the Arizona Wildcats, state candidates including Adrian Fontes, and even New York Governor Mario Cuomo.

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