The coming months will be busy for Scottsdale Public Art as the local entity prepares for three new art installations along with the return of beloved community events.
On Sept. 20, Scottsdale Public Art President and CEO Gerd Wuestemann presented an update to city council, going over the program’s projects, events and challenges.
Scottsdale Public Art has a public art collection featuring more than 160 pieces displayed across the city. It supports exhibits, hosts the annual Canal Convergence and is helping restore Scottsdale Civic Center.
Scottsdale Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that administers the city’s arts and cultural affairs through a city council-approved agreement. Scottsdale Arts is made up of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale Public Art and Scottsdale Arts Learning and Innovation.
Of Scottsdale’s public art collection, approximately 20,000-30,000 people see the pieces throughout the city every day, Wuestemann said.
The collection includes popular pieces such as the Pima Freeway walls, Soleri Bridge on the waterfront, Indian Bend Wash Horse Sculptures, the LOVE sculpture, The Doors on Camelback Road and the first collection item Windows to the West.
The collection is valued at $160 million – Pima Freeway conservation alone will require $1 million – while the program’s annual conservation fund is around $126,000. This presents a challenge for the program, Wuestemann informed council.
The other challenge for Scottsdale Public Art is capacity. As Scottsdale’s population and development has grown, public art spending has also increased. However, Scottsdale Public Art staff levels remain steady. Staff members now handle nine projects each, compared to four.
Scottsdale Public Art has also recently installed Sunburst at SkySong, a mural at Arizona Department of Water Resources and Pinball Wizard at Old Town’s splash pad. In addition, temporary IN FLUX works by Shirley Wagner, Hector Ortega, Christopher Luper and Yuke Li were installed this year.
Sonoran Seedpods by Jeff Zischke was one of the exhibits offered July 7-Sept. 30, in which macro images of seeds as well as large, outdoor metal sculptures were showcased. The exhibit implemented a virtual reality experience of the images.
Coming up is Scottsdale Public Art’s award-winning Canal Convergence Nov. 4-13, and the placement of three artworks in the newly remodeled civic center. Some aspects are currently delayed, but two-thirds of the campus will open Jan. 22, according to Wuestemann.
Also, early next year, a project of aluminum against turquoise walls by Barbara Grygutis will enliven Drinkwater underpass.
“For years, and thanks to the guidance and leadership of our city manager, we talked about this Drinkwater tunnel,” Wuestemann said in the meeting. “Shouldn’t this be a gateway, shouldn’t it signal that there’s a great art campus on top evolving?”
The project has a ropelike, lasso design which “reflects both our Western past and guides us into a creative future,” Wuestemann explained.
Looking forward, Scottsdale Public Art plans to come back to city council Dec. 7 to talk about rewriting the public art ordinance of 1985, which established a policy to use 1% of city building funds for public art. It would also like to propose to council a piece for the southern entrance into the civic center to showcase the venue’s art and guide people down the street, which would coincide with the city’s new streetscaping.
Mayor David D. Ortega positively responded to Scottsdale Public Art’s presentation.
“Public art is made possible by benefactors and the 1% [fund] for art, so that’s part of the cost development that we all take ownership and it’s how so many of these amenities get built,” he said.
Scottsdale pays for public art in two ways: