An impressive roster of local and international artists will fill the Scottsdale Waterfront with visual and performance art inspired by the confluence of water and light during this month’s Canal Convergence. For the first time, the event has a theme: The Story of Water.
“We wanted to share more explicitly the ways artwork can help people talk about the connections between water and history, economics, social issues, business, and culture in Arizona,” says Kim Boganey, director of Scottsdale Public Art.
Presented by Scottsdale Public Art, the 10-day event promises a wealth of outdoor arts experiences, including live music, dance, comedy, storytelling, and large-scale art installations. But the lineup also includes an intriguing mix of artist talks, urban art installations, and art tours.
Canal Convergence has its roots in an early 2013 mix of art and maintenance, created through a partnership between Scottsdale Public Art and Salt River Project (SRP). When SRP drained the Arizona Canal along the Scottsdale Waterfront for routine maintenance, Scottsdale Public Art treated the canal as a canvas and stage for visual and performance artists.
It started as a two-day affair, but it’s continued to evolve. Last year, it expanded to include light-based installations by local artists, which will be situated around Old Town Scottsdale again this year.
Like many of the large-scale art installations along the canal, several of the Local Light installations make great backdrops for selfies and Instagram moments.
Even so, the event explores significant issues ranging from sustainability to the indigenous people who continue to play a major role in shaping the region’s culture.
“We’re integrating Native voices in several ways this year,” Boganey says. They include opening the event with a traditional Native blessing, live music by a blues band based in the Gila River Indian Community, and artwork created by a trio of indigenous artists called The Continuum. “I’m honored and humbled to help bring these voices to Canal Convergence,” she adds.
She’s also excited about a new festival conceived as a creative way to highlight sustainability during Canal Convergence. “We’re launching the world’s first beer festival with only craft beers made from recycled water,” Boganey says. “It’s a fun way to educate and advocate for sustainability,” she says. The festival happens on the first two days of Canal Convergence.
With so much going on, we figured you could use help making the most of it.
There’s nothing wrong with simply showing up and taking it all in, but we’ve got the rundown on what’s happening. Start by marking your calendar for Friday, November 8, through Sunday, November 17, when Canal Convergence 2019 takes place.
Location: Canal Convergence happens along the Scottsdale Waterfront, which runs on a diagonal along Scottsdale Road between East Camelback Road and Marshall Way. The Soleri Stage is situated on Soleri Plaza near the intersection of Scottsdale and Camelback roads. Another event hub, the Marshall Way Bridge, is located near the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Marshall Way. Most workshops happen at the Workshop Zone, a grassy area along the Arizona Canal between Goldwater Boulevard and Marshall Way. Check the online Canal Convergence map for details before you head out.
Getting Around: Parking is available on the street and in nearby public parking garages. Free Scottsdale Trolleys run every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 9:25 p.m. daily on the Old Town route. The area also has an abundance of rental bikes and scooters, but you'll need to bring your helmet. Check here for information on construction projects that may cause traffic delays in or around Old Town.
Hours: Most days, activities begin at 4 p.m. However, the exact schedule for performances, art experiences, and workshops varies by day. Check the online schedule before you attend.
Cost: Most Canal Convergence offerings are free, but there are a few exceptions. Bring money for food and drinks, of course. And having a little extra for buying art, souvenirs, or holiday gifts never hurts.
Food: Look for the beer and wine garden at Soleri Plaza, where you can also find assorted food vendors. Featured vendors for Friday, November 8, through Sunday, November 10, are Lulu’s Sorbetto, Mustache Pretzels, and Tom’s BBQ. Featured vendors for Friday, November 15, through Sunday, November 17, are Beignet Babe, Eur Haus, and Left Coast Burrito. Several eateries and bars are located within walking distance of the Scottsdale Waterfront.
Brewing Festival: The One Water Brewing Showcase, featuring crafts beers created with recycled water, happens on the Soleri Plaza from 4 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, November 8 and 9. Participating breweries are based around metro Phoenix. They include Desert Monk Brewing Co, Fate Brewing Company, Flying Basset Brewing, Freak’N Brewing Company (with Dubina Brewing Co.), Mother Bunch Brewing Company, North Mountain Brewing, O.S.H.O. Brewery + Distillery, Uncle Bear’s Brewery, Walter Station Brewery, and Wren House Brewing Co.
Light Up the Night: Scottsdale Public Art is already planning for Canal Convergence 2020. It’s holding a special event in the VIP Lounge at Canal Convergence. Tickets are $50, with half of each ticket going towards Canal Convergence 2020. The 6 to 8 p.m. event on Saturday, November 16, includes appetizer and dessert bites, cocktails, a champagne toast with Scottsdale Arts CEO Gerd Wuestemann, and single-night art installations by Casey Farina and Nicole A. Banowetz.
Find art installations, including several with interactive components, located along the Scottsdale Waterfront throughout Canal Convergence. Also, look for Local Light artworks by several Valley artists including Daniel Funkhouser and Casey Farina, which are located throughout Old Town.
Here's a rundown of artworks being presented along the Arizona Canal as part of Canal Convergence, along with the days their creators are presenting talks and workshops. Some workshops require an online RSVP or ticket purchase.
Created by the Miracle Wonderland Carnival Co. based in New Orleans, this installation includes three swing sets suspended from glowing cloud shapes. The white clouds get vibrant colors that grow more saturated as the swings move at greater speeds.
Artist Talk: Friday, November 8, 7 to 7:30 p.m. near the artwork, south of Marshall Way Bridge.
Light-up Clouds Workshop: Friday, November 15, at 7 and 7:30 p.m. at the Workshop Zone. Tickets are $5.
Made by Moscow creatives who call themselves Izobrulo Polylight, this LED sculpture serves as a photo opportunity. Visitors stand behind the artwork, which changes into a technological take on one of three historical types of clothing.
Izobrulo Polylight is also showing a heart-shaped artwork with LED lights that fully illuminate only when two or more people hug beneath it. When one person stands under the heart, only half of the sculpture is illuminated.
Artist Talk: Saturday, November 16, 6 to 6:30 p.m. at the Marshall Way Bridge.
ATOMIC3 and Ottomata of Montreal worked in collaboration with Jean-Sébastien Côté to create an interactive artwork conceived as a symphony of light. When visitors standing on a podium move their arms, the piece responds by projecting lights into the sky and playing a musical sequence.
Artist Talk: Friday, November 8, 8 to 8:30 p.m. near the artwork, on the southwest section of the canal.
Colorado artist Nicole Anona Banowetz is showing a series of three inflatable sculptures inspired by freshwater algae living in the Arizona Canal, which change colors when several viewers interact simultaneously with the piece.
Artist Talk: Saturday, November 16, 5 to 5:30 p.m. near the artwork, on the northwest section of the canal.
Petri Dish Sculpture Workshop: Sunday, November 17, 4 to 5 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m. in the Workshop Zone.
Soleri, So Laser
Michigan creative Mike Gould’s installation features interactive images projected onto two 64-foot pylons on Soleri Bridge. Viewers can control both the speed and brightness of these abstract kinetic laser images.
Artist Talk: Friday, November 8, 6 to 6:30 p.m. at Soleri Plaza.
DIY Laser Show Workshop: Saturday, November 9, 5 to 7 p.m. in the Workshop Zone.
The British artist collective Squidsoup simulated a wave over the canal by connecting about 600 interconnected orbs of light for this installation that also has a sound component. It will be on view through January 5. Look for another Squidsoup installation called Murmurations at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, where it will be on view through May of 2020.
Artist Talk: Thursday, November 7, 7 to 8 p.m. at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Space is limited. RSVP online before attending.
Toy Studio of London used a series of LED tubes to create a swarm of light that simulates the movement of groups of birds or fish.
Artist Talk: Saturday, November 9, 7 to 7:30 p.m. near the artwork, at the southeast section of the canal.
Stenciled T-Shirt Printing Workshop: Saturday, November 9, at 4, 4:30, 5, and 5:30 p.m. in the Workshop Zone. Tickets are $5.
Walter Productions of Scottsdale created a floating sculpture measuring nearly 200 feet long, which will be installed on the Arizona Canal. Fire will shoot from the artwork’s metallic spines during choreographed fire performances happening at times throughout the event.
Artist Talk: Friday, November 15, 5 to 5:30 p.m. near the artwork, at the northwest section of the canal.
Antonin Fourneau of Paris created a wall of 32,000 LEDs, which serves as an interactive canvas. Visitors can create images using paintbrushes or spray bottles to wet the installation’s surface with water.
Artist Talk: Friday, November 15, 6 to 6:30 P.M. near the artwork, at the northeast section of the canal.
DIY Waterlight Stamp Workshop: Saturday, November 16, 4 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10.
More Art Installations
Canal Convergence also includes two public-art projects that are not light-based, which were created by local artists. Also look for Aquarius: The Water Bearer, a sustainability-inspired sculpture created by local teens working with artist Elana Novali.
A Deeper Map
Phoenix artist Richard Laugharn created a public artwork and mobile app that shows the relationship between a modern map of Phoenix and the historical sites of canals and agricultural fields created by ancestral Sonoran Desert people.
Su:Dagi Haicu A:ga
A group of three indigenous artists called The Continuum are showing a four-panel mural featuring a timeline that reflects key aspects of the ancestral O’odham culture, including the creation story.
Here’s the rundown on Local Light installations happening in Old Town locations. The artworks were installed in late October and will continue through December 31.
Into the distance
Phoenix artist Francisco Flores is showing a light-based sculpture featuring animations of upward movement. It's located at 7051 East Fifth Avenue.
Phoenix creative Daniel Funkhouser is showing enclosed fluorescent panels illuminated by LEDs, which feature desert imagery distorted to create a dreamlike sensibility. It's located at Scottsdale Fashion Square, 7014 East Camelback Road.
Tempe artist Eli Richard is showing 23 sculptures with steel frames, solar-powered lights, and plexiglass panels inspired by colors of diverse desert landscapes. The sculptures, ranging from three to eight feet tall, are illuminated at night. Look for them at Third Avenue and Marshall Way, and other locations around Old Town.
Amanda Clayton of Ellipsis Studio in Phoenix is showing a neon artwork inspired by the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona. It's located at LDV Winery Tasting Room, 7134 East Stetson Drive.
The Sunset Stack
Paradise Valley creatives calling themselves The Sunset People have created a one-hour loop of sunset videos, which will be projected onto screens. Look for it at Carlson Creek Wine Tasting Room, 4142 North Marshall Way.
Phoenix artist Casey Farina is showing a video installation created with five synchronized projectors and projection mapping, featuring images moving across storefront windows. Find it inside the Scottsdale Public Art Canal Convergence Storefront, 7035 East Fifth Avenue.
The event includes several art experiences featuring local creatives. Here’s a look at two of our favorites.
Mesa artist Katharine Leigh Simpson is presenting a bird-inspired art experience that blends visual and performance art every night of the festival at 6:10 p.m. Look for her walking along the Arizona Canal.
Water Serpent Fire Performance
Walter Productions will present fire performances on the Arizona Canal every night of Canal Convergence. Performances happen at 6 and 7 p.m. every night, in addition to 8 and 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday performances happen at 6 and 7 p.m. on November 10 and 6, 7, and 8 p.m. on Sunday, November 17.
Walking and Bike Tours
Canal Convergence includes two walking and one bike tour, which begin at various locations on the South Bridge. Note the RSVP and ticketing requirements before you go. It’s best to arrive 15 minutes early. Don’t forget basics like walking shoes, sunscreen, and a water bottle.
Night Lights Bike Ride
Deck your bike out in lights, then join this riding tour of public artworks located in Old Town, ranging from John Randall Nelson’s One-Eyed Jack to Ed Mell’s Jack Knife. Buy your $5 ticket online. If you want to explore more public artworks while you’re attending Canal Convergence, you can find a list of artworks on the Scottsdale Arts website. Meet at the Community Roundabout by 6:10 p.m. on Saturday, November 9. The ride lasts until 8 p.m.
Sunset Canal Convergence Tour
Tour guides will share information and insights about featured artists and light-based artworks. The tours run from 7 to 8 p.m. on seven dates, starting on Friday, November 8. Tickets are $5, and you can get them online. Tours start at the Canal Convergence Information Booth near the South Bridge.
SRP Canal Tour
SRP guides will discuss the history of the canals and their uses today. The free tours run from 5 to 6 p.m. on four dates, starting on Saturday, November 9. RSVP online before you go. Tours start at the SRP Booth on the South Bridge.
Look for live music every night on the main stage at Soleri Plaza, where the Canal Convergence lineup includes more than two dozen local bands performing music in genres such as folk, Latin, punk, rock, and more. Most days, performances kick off at 4 p.m. Here are the performance times for a few of our favorites.
The blues band based in the Gila River Indian Community will perform Friday, November 8, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
The Phoenix band specializing in electronic music and dream pop will perform Saturday, November 9, from 9:10 to 10 p.m.
La Luz de la Luna
The Phoenix trio will perform classic Mexican music on Tuesday, November 12, from 6:10 to 7:55 p.m.
Las Chollas Peligrosas
The Phoenix all-female sextet will perform Latin fusion on Wednesday, November 13, from 7:10 to 8 p.m.
Canal Convergence includes three free dance performances. Here’s the lineup:
Experience Native song and dance performed on the Soleri Stage from 4:05 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 8.
A Drop in the Ocean
Ignite Collaborative performs a series of vignettes that incorporate movement, light, interaction, and audience participation. The performance, which begins near the Standing Wave installation, happens from 8:15 to 9 p.m. on Friday, November 8.
Six dancers perform a water-inspired work by choreographer Nicole L Olson along the Marshall Way Bridge, 7135 East Camelback Road. Performances start at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, November 9, and Saturday, November 16.
Storytellers Ralph Brekan, Violet Duncan, Jose Gonzalez, Marilyn Torres, and Joy Young will perform water-related stories for a performance called Water Writes, which includes musical participation by Sydney Sprague. The event happens from 7:10 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 14.
Scratch Comedy will perform original comedy from 9:10 to 10 p.m. on Friday, November 15.
Canal Convergence includes more than a dozen workshops, including several offered by local artists and community groups. Some feature hands-on art activities, and others are focused on sustainable desert living. Here’s a sampling of our favorites, along with the first date/time they’re offered at the Workshop Zone, which is located along the canal between Goldwater Boulevard and Marshall Way. Workshops are free unless otherwise noted.
Gyotaku Fish Prints
Tempe art teacher Amanda McGlothern will lead a workshop in making prints using a traditional Japanese technique using paint and molds of underwater creatures. The drop-in workshop takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 9, and from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 10.
Bring your own t-shirt or light-colored textile to create a single-color screen print using one of four paint colors. Local Light artist Eli Richard of Tempe will be helping participants at this drop-in workshop, which runs from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, November 8, and Friday, November 15.
This drop-in workshop, presented by the Cosanti Foundation, explores the process used to create ceramic Soleri bells, which includes creating a mold, pouring casting slip, and carving designs. Workshops hours are 4 to 10 p.m. on Friday, November 8, and Friday, November 15, and Saturday, November 9, and Saturday, November 16. Workshop hours are 4 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, November 10, Thursday, November 14, and Sunday, November 17.
Three O’odham artists who work together as The Continuum are presenting a painting and coloring workshop featuring imagery that reflects the original inhabitants of the Salt River Valley. Participating artists are Jacob Butler, Dwayne Manuel, and Thomas “Breeze” Marcus. The drop-in workshop happens from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, November 10, and Sunday, November 17.
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More Old Town Art Offerings
Of course, there’s plenty of additional art in Scottsdale, so consider leaving extra time to check out offerings at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, and Old Town galleries concentrated along Main Street and Marshall Way.
Look for galleries inside Scottsdale Civic Center Library and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, as well. If you attend Canal Convergence on Thursday, November 14, you can check out the Scottsdale ArtWalk from 7 to 9 p.m.
Canal Convergence is scheduled for Friday, November 8, through Sunday, November 17, along the Arizona Canal in Old Town, Scottsdale. Most events are free, but some require an RSVP or ticket. Visit canalconvergance.com.