August 14, 2020

Meet Gina Azima, Public Art Operations Manager

What do you do as a public art operations manager?

I handle the day-to-day operations of my team, as well as the logistics and operations of Canal Convergence. 

What does public art mean to you?

Public art is a fluid concept to me. When I originally started in this position, I had a very narrow perspective of what public art was. Though we do produce permanent projects like statues and murals, we offer so many opportunities to artists and the community. It’s free programming and exhibitions in libraries, spaces for local artists to learn about becoming a public artist, teaching artists new skill sets, working with our local municipality to create events that bring new public art and international artists to our community. Public art is about taking art into new places and environments and debunking the myth that it only belongs in a gallery or museum. 

How did you get into the field of public art, and what led you to this career?

Honestly, I started in galleries and museums while I was going through school. I actually worked in finance before applying for my original position (administrative assistant), There wasn’t a lot of art-related opportunities when I came out of school, which was disheartening on so many levels. But I applied and became a part of such an amazing team. I’m very analytical and organized, and my job has morphed in to handling the operations of our team and one of the biggest events in the city. I will admit that it was a long road to get to this point, but it has been one of the most rewarding and challenging steps in my career. 

Gina Azima served the beers for the 2019 One Water Brewing Showcase to the judges.
Photo: Scottsdale Arts.

What has been your favorite project to work on?

I will say without a doubt it is our event Canal Convergence. It has been an amazing experience to be able to watch it grow in to a 10-day event. We’ve worked with fantastic artists, install team, community partners, operations, and, of course, the public art staff. I’ve also had the opportunity to work on some great initiatives, like our efforts to go zero waste, sustainability, and the One Water Brewing Showcase. There has been a lot of flexibility from my team and director to really explore the possibilities and direction the event can go. 

What would your dream public art project for Scottsdale be?

The dream project I have for public art is to have our event expand to additional locations around the city. This will allow us to explore large spaces beyond the waterfront for more artistic opportunities for international, national, and local artists. I would also like to see our participant base of local businesses increase so we may offer more light based installations from local artists in the downtown area of Scottsdale. 

Water Serpent by Walter Productions, featured at Canal Convergence 2019.
Photo: Sean Deckert.

What advice would you have for artists to get involved in public art and for people who are interested in being involved on the coordination side?

Public art is a fantastic next step for any artist’s career. I also know it can be a long process involving applications; proposal denials/acceptance; having to learn new approaches to the design, fabrication and installation processes—as well as working with municipalities, private development, and contractors. But, ultimately you have to find patience and appreciation for your new experiences of growing as an artist. It’s all worth it! 

What do you do in your free time or outside of work? 

I work on designing and making furniture in my downtime.

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