Art, People

July 23, 2019

California has its beaches. New Jersey has its boardwalks. Arizona has its canals. For Scottsdale, one particular canal section has been elevated to near celebrity status — serving for several years now as the site of a multi-day arts and culture extravaganza called Canal Convergence.

Scottsdale’s third annual Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light takes place Thursday, February 26, to Sunday, March 1, along the Scottsdale Waterfront, where folks who attend can experience visual and performance art including large-scale art installations, interactive artworks, dance performances, and live music.

Here’s the lineup for installations and interactive artworks created by Arizona artists.


Saskia Jorda is revisiting a recurring theme in her work to create one of the event’s most expansive pieces, comprising silhouettes of flying, perching, and foraging birds placed along Scottsdale Waterfront pathways.

My Your Our Water

Erin V. Sotak has been riding along the canal and talking with folks about water and aesthetics for several months. She’ll unveil four related elements during the event: images from her rides, floating illuminated words, life-size cutouts of Teddy Roosevelt, and a Roosevelt Dam backdrop for visitor photo opportunities.

Shirley “Mimi” Jardine is bringing the Mobile Remittance Unit for her fictional governmental agency to Canal Convergence, where she’ll continue her quest to gather to-go lids and documents for use in future sculptures and installations. B.Y.O.L., people.

Jen Lewin's The Pool, pictured here in Singapore, will be featured at Canal Convergence in Scottsdale.

Jen Lewin’s The Pool, pictured here in Singapore, will be featured at Canal Convergence in Scottsdale.Jeremy Hui/Courtesy of Jen Lewin Studio

Several artists from other states are also presenting installations and interactive artworks, including the following.

Play Array – CANCELED

Brooklyn-based Urban Matter Inc. was set to use a portion of the canal between two bridges as a play surface for a large-scale interactive game inspired by classic video games. However, due to technical difficulties, Scottsdale Public Art has informed Jackalope Ranch that this installation will not be part of Canal Convergence.

The Pool

Boulder-based Jen Lewin is installing an interactive canvas of LED lights that generates swirling neon bursts of light and color in response to movements of visitors who jump atop the surface. It’s coming to Scottsdale after touring six countries and 12 other states.

The Artwork Forge

Pittsburgh artist Toby Fraley is sharing his creative approach to simplifying a single decision in a world of infinite choices: choosing a work of art for one’s home. We’re told his machine scans social media and news websites and factors in “established works of art” before printing original pieces. (We hope he tackles wardrobe choices next.)

the Garden Grows: BioMe

San Francisco’s Karrie Hovey has already populated the banks of the Arizona Canal with handcrafted pinwheel-style plants and flowers inspired by the Arizona landscape, which are designed to spin when breezes blow.

Autumn/Spring Pavilion: Desert Series

Joy Holland, who’s based in Florida, has created a series of creative, flexible seating arrangements consisting of single and clustered wooden cubes meant to engage the public while fostering human interaction at this and other Scottsdale Public Art events.

Look for workshops led by Jorda and Hovey if you’re heading to Canal Convergence between 2 and 5 p.m. on Saturday and/or Sunday afternoon.

Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, a featured performer during Canal Convergence in Scottsdale.

Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, a featured performer during Canal Convergence in Scottsdale.Courtesy of Scottsdale Public Art

The Heidi Duckler Dance Company from Los Angeles is performing two pieces during Canal Convergence — one at 6 p.m. on Saturday, and the other at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Saturday’s Miss Fire features two dancers donning LED-embedded attire engaging pedestrians while exploring “cycles of circulation and growth” on the Soleri Bridge, best known to many for a pair of towering brushed-steel pylons rising more than 60 feet skyward.

Folks who follow the storytelling cult that swirls around Tania Katan wisely snagged tickets early on for the Water Logged event taking place Friday night on that very bridge. The two-hour shindig being presented by Scottsdale Public Art and Phoenix New Times features the storytelling styling of Michael Grady, Laurie Notaro, Kim Porter, Tom Zoellner, and Katan. But alas, it’s already sold out. What can we say? The killer lineup along with Sarah Hurwitz’s super cool canal monster event graphic did the trick.

Saturday’s festivities start with the Community Canal Path Bike Ride, an event that’s part moderately paced bike ride and part tour of local arts and culture. Riders of all levels can gather on the Soleri Bridge between 10. and 10:30 a.m. — in the spot marked by local artist Andy Brown’s bike sign created for Scottsdale Public Art. Along the route, which runs about nine miles, riders will pause to enjoy several works of public arts and hear from some of the artists who created them.

• Bob Adams will discuss his recently completed Copper Falls at the corner of Scottsdale and Camelback Roads. • Chris Fennell will talk about his temporary installation Industrial Pipe Wave located at a nearby groundwater treatment facility • Laurie Lundquist will discuss her Watering the Desert project.

Those of you who’ve always wondered what’s up with those five giant equine gargoyles that spit water during hard rains can finally get a closer look at Water Mark along the canal at Indian Bend Road, which Scottsdale Public Art describes as one of the most popular pieces in its permanent collection.

The ride wraps up back at Soleri Bridge, where cowboy poet, songwriter, and artist Sid Hausman will be doing his music and storytelling thing starting at 1 p.m. We figure it’s an especially good fit this year, given the recent opening of Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.

Art meets bicycle during the Canal Convergence Community Canal Path Bike Ride in Scottsdale.

Art meets bicycle during the Canal Convergence Community Canal Path Bike Ride in Scottsdale.Dayvid LeMmon

A couple of additional Scottsdale staples are also part of this year’s event. Folks can shop all four days at the Artisan Market along the canal, and enjoy a beer-and-wine garden on Soleri Plaza on Friday from 9 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m.

All interactive art pieces are open to the public and free of charge, and many will be on view until April.

Several installations are already underway, so folks exploring the canal ahead of time may stumble on artworks and their artists. Hit the Scottsdale Public Art Facebook page to learn more about what’s happening along the canal in the run-up to the event.

Find a full schedule and additional information on the Canal Convergence website.

See also: Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West to Open in January 2015

Editor’s note: This post has been updated form its original version with new information.

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts

Article by Phoenix New Times