Scottsdale Public Art

Temporary Art

Canal Creatures - Where Are They Now?

Canal Creatures - Where Are They Now? by Arizona-based muralist and painters Isaac Caruso and Ashley Macias was be an interactive mural painting installation placed at the underpass of the Marshall Way Bridge. The mural followed the story of the Canal Creatures mural project, which was created by the artists during the 2013 SRP Canal Dry-Up at the Scottsdale Waterfront. With this installation, Caruso and Macias answered the question of what the canal creatures would look like now if they continued to grow and thrive in the canal. Caruso and Macias painted the murals live during the first two days of Canal Convergence, on the third day they invited the public to participate in the painting of the mural, and on the fourth day they added finishing touches to the mural. The resulting collaborative artwork will continue to be on display at the waterfront after Canal Convergence has ended.



Poem by Michelle Salcido for Four Chambers Press Poetry Reading at Canal Convergence:

Self-Reflection in Water


Under the bridge, beside the canal,

walk toward what is hidden, what only darkness

can see. Stand at the window that is not

a window, stare through wood and concrete

into water, wait for what it has to show.


I hold my hand to the surface, face the creatures

I imagine inside—of course they are inside,

dark sparks, shadow creatures swimming

through swaths of color like thoughts hardly formed,

and with one voice they chant: We look back

to look out. We look under to see through.

Here, in the deep, what grows out of us,

what grasps at us, we call to ourselves. We eat

everything you drop. Everything you lose,

we keep. Everything you think you forgot,

we bury in silt and sand. It is here:


For darkness is a phenomenon outside the sphere

and influence of any law.


A White Amur Fish with unblinking eyes

opens her mouth and spits out a ring. His ring.

The ring a boy named David asked my mother to wear

before she was a mother, the ring she didn’t want to wear,

the ring that slipped off her finger when she dove

into the canal, or, maybe, the ring she slipped out of

to follow a different current, and one day mother me.


Two shapes ride the Razorback Sucker,

two Black brothers, never to be men, who drowned

in a canal not far from here, each trying to save

the other. Their friends watched firefighters pull

their bodies from the water, but here they are,

swimming against the current, wearing

their maroon and gold jerseys, late

for my English class. I think their mother

still flinches when she crosses running water.

I think, she felt them buried again

when that canal was filled in years ago.


The Colorado Pikeminnow swishes her tail

and paints herself in the water and the painting

in the water swishes her tail, painting

herself again. This is how it goes on:

we work from an original sketch, in the footprints

and shadows of the ancients, the Hohokam,

who traced the first water map across the desert.

Their canals branch out like roots, like veins cut open,

gushing with life, carving paths through us

to ourselves. They knew, like we know,

Water Is Life. They called the water to their fields

and crops, called my great-grandmothers,

my grandfathers, my mother and father to harvest—

their hands to the same earth, and me, born from them,

and my children born from the same water that flows

as far as the town where my great-grandmother

built her adobe house and birthed 16 children.

All of my maps inscribed over their maps, all of our lives

ghosting through their city.


The canal creatures offer this earthen bowl of water

to set on my windowsill. When the water has mixed

with air, when the sun has drunk her fill

of this offering, read the salt left at the bottom,

the shape and line of your fear. Then break the bowl.


It’s simple, really. Find this bridge, find the window

that is not a window, the shape of yourself

in the watery void. It’s always raining underwater,

but everything you see sees you. 

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