Art to talk about: Public art breathes life into Scottsdale

The Path Most Traveled” by Carolyn Braaksma. (Photo by Dan Coogan.)

Scottsdale Public Art features nearly 100 permanent installations throughout the city — could you identify them all?

In an effort to seek out some of the best-kept secrets surrounding Scottsdale’s art, the Independent traveled around the city finding some of the iconic hand-created gems.

Featuring a total of 91 permanent art installations, 10 temporary art installations, and two temporary exhibitions, Scottsdale Public Art is represented all over the city.

Ranging from the municipal court building, to art along the freeway, the efforts of local artists are witnessed daily.

Through a collaborative effort, Scottsdale Public Art is one arm that makes up the Scottsdale Arts entity.

Scottsdale Public Art is partially funded by the city of Scottsdale public art ordinances, and managed by Scottsdale Arts, a private, non-profit 501(c)3 management organization that administers the arts and cultural affairs of the city of Scottsdale and also manages the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

In addition to the 100 current public art pieces, a handful of others are in the works around Scottsdale including:

  • New live/work community, SOHO Scottsdale will debut work by three artists charged with enhancing the property;
  • The Scottsdale Airport Aviation Business Center will feature artist Martin Donlin’s bright colored, transparent glass sculptures;
  • Fire Station 316 will don Tuscon artists Daniel Martin Diaz and Paula Catherine Valencia interior structural design elements.

Read below to learn some little-known facts about the iconic art pieces in Scottsdale.

Reflection Rising by Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics (photo by Melissa Fittro)

No. 1

The new temporary public art installation at the Scottsdale Waterfront titled “Reflection Rising” by artist Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics extends to nearly 14,000 square feet, but only weighs approximately 200 pounds. “Reflection Rising” will be suspended above the Arizona Canal at the Scottsdale Waterfront through March 5, 2018, and is one of the featured installations for Canal Convergence Water + Art + Light Feb. 23-24, and March 2-3, 2018.

“Industrial Pipe Wave” by Christopher Fennel (photo by Melissa Fittro)

No. 2

“Industrial Pipe Wave” by Christopher Fennel, located at east McDonald Drive and north Cattletrack Road, is made entirely of 4,000 feet of locally salvaged pipes, and weighs 16,000 pounds.

The “Goldwater Bell” was produced at Cosanti entirely by Paolo Soleri. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

No. 3

Hanging at Soleri Bridge and Plaza, the “Goldwater Bell” was produced at Cosanti entirely by Paolo Soleri for his first U.S. retrospective at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. The bell once hung in the Goldwater Department Store at Scottsdale Fashion Square, leading to its name.
Find at: The Soleri Bridge and Plaza along Scottsdale Waterfront.

“Horseworld” by Snell Johnson. (photo by city of Scottsdale)

No. 4

The Bronze “Horseworld” sculpture by Snell Johnson at the 101 freeway entrance to WestWorld is actually three different types of horses: an Arabian, a Thoroughbred and a Quarter Horse.

“The Doors” by Donald Lipski. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

No. 5

“The Doors” by Donald Lipski is made from “Ipe” a Brazilian hardwood, and features a polished metal interior that produces kaleidoscopic reflections of viewers. Those standing inside “The Doors” activate an audio soundscape created by Jim Green consisting of field recordings called “Sound Passage.” Find at: southwest corner of Scottsdale and Camelback roads.

Atmospheres and Environments XIII by Louise Nevelson (photo by Melissa Fittro)

No. 6

Louise Nevelson decided to forgo her artist fee for the commission of “Atmospheres and Environments XIII” in 1973, to cover production costs. It was the first cor-ten monumental sculpture in the southwest by Ms. Nevelson, and her largest architectural scuplture in the western United States.
Find at: Scottsdale Civic Center Mall.

“Horseshoe Falls” by Michael Maglich (photo by Melissa Fittro)

No. 7

“Horseshoe Falls” by Michael Maglich is so named because its columns are made 4,500 horseshoes stacked on each other, and is described by the artist as a “non-equestrian equestrian structure.” The project also features a misting system that can be activated by pressing a button on site. Once the button is pressed, a cloud of mist emanates from the project and drifts over Indian School Road.  Find at: Southeast corner of Marshall Way and Indian School Road.

“The Path Most Traveled” by Carolyn Braaksma. (Photo by Dan Coogan.)

No. 8

The abstract and representational desert inspired motifs along six miles of the Pima Freeway/Loop 101 titled “The Path Most Traveled” by Carolyn Braaksma was the first large scale public art integration into a freeway in the United States.

(Spirit of Camelback) by Kana Tanaka (photo by Melissa Fittro)

No. 9

The hand blown glass orbs of “Spirit of Camelback” by Kana Tanaka, in the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts delineate points on a topographic map of Camelback Mountain.

“Curiosities” by Mary Lucking. (Photo by Jennifer Gill.)

No. 10

Scottsdale Public Art’s newest permanent installation has just been completed adjacent to Mustang Library. “Curiosities” by Mary Lucking features ten sculptures of birds reading books throughout the grounds of the new Mustang Transit Center. The bronze birds are reading actual book pages that have been etched in stainless-steel.


Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at or can be followed on Twitter at

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