July 22, 2022

A Deeper Dive into Public Art in Scottsdale, Part 1

If you meander through Scottsdale, you are bound to see public art. How did this art get here, and what is its purpose? Public art contributes to the community by invoking civic pride and encouraging community engagement through signature art. It contributes to the identity of Scottsdale and helps to shape our future.

Birdie Umwelt by Mary Lucking

Public art in Scottsdale largely originated from the passing of two ordinances. Ordinance 1836, passed in 1985, is all about Art in Public Places (AIPP). The city of Scottsdale allocates one percent of the City Council-approved budget of each capital improvement project for the commission and acquisition of public art. This means that whenever there is a new sports complex, library, plaza, or fire station being built in the city, permanent public art will be created. Well-known examples of AIPP projects are Water Mark by Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan, Soleri Bridge and Plaza by Paolo Soleri, and Birdie Umwelt by Mary Lucking. Scottsdale Public Art manages these projects from inception to completion, and after, ensuring that these artworks are maintained with the artists’ original visions. Check out our Permanent Art and In-Progress webpages for more artwork and for a sneak peek at what is to come, respectively.

Water Mark by Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan

Ordinance 2018, passed in 1988, is the Cultural Improvement Program, more commonly known as Art in Private Development (AIPD). AIPD projects are intended to integrate publicly visible artwork into private development projects to strengthen the city’s arts and cultural sector. The developers of these projects work with Scottsdale Public Art to have each stage of their public art plan approved by the Scottsdale Public Art Advisory Board. Examples of completed AIPD in Scottsdale are Stream of Consciousness by Kevin Berry, Lenses by Joe O’Connell, and Building Blocks by Christopher Weed. Explore our Art in Private Development webpage for more artworks.

Lenses by Joe O’Connell

There are a few iconic public art pieces that pre-date these ordinances, including Windows to the West by Louise Nevelson and Mountains and Rainbows by Jose Ygnacio Bermudez. Windows to the West, Scottsdale’s first public art installation, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023 and is returning to Scottsdale Civic Center, in a new location, once renovations are complete. Mountains and Rainbows has a new home at DC Ranch Park, which aligns well with the artist’s original intentions for the artwork.

Windows to the West by Louise Nevelson

Stay tuned for parts two and three of this blog series to learn more about public art in Scottsdale.

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