July 2, 2020

Canal Convergence: An Evolution

From the humble beginnings of the Night Lights events emerged the first official Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light in 2012.

Sonic Pass Scottsdale by Christopher Janney, Canal Convergence 2012. Photo: Sean Deckert.

This first officially named event featured live music and performance art alongside interactive, light-based artworks. Additionally, there were workshops with artists and Salt River Project (SRP) educators, locally produced specialty goods, a Saturday night happy hour, and a Sunday morning bike ride along the canal.

Canal Convergence Bike Ride, 2012. Photo: Dayvid LeMmon.

In the following year Canal Convergence changed again by splitting up into three separate events: Canal Convergence | Art + Maintenance, January 12; Canal Convergence | Spring Equinox, March 21–24; and finally Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light, November 7–10.

Canal Convergence 2013 logos.

The first event, Art + Maintenance, was planned in coordination with an SRP canal dry-up. Between January 13 and February 3, mural artists Isaac Caruso and Ashley Macias created a series of murals along the canal walls, and artist Casey Cooper set up a floating geometric sculpture on the canal bed.

Canal Creatures by Isaac Caruso and Ashley Macias, Canal Convergence 2013. Photo: Dayvid LeMmon.

Canal Convergence | Spring Equinox was a true celebration of everything springtime, with installations such as Scophalopods in the Springtime by Peter Goldlust; Drip, Dribble, Drop by Melissa Martinez; and Wild Flower Current by Mary Shindell.

Drip, Dribble, Drop by Melissa Martinez. Photo: Dayvid LeMmon.

Finally, the 2013 fall Canal Convergence saw a return to the original theme of “Water + Art + Light.” Scottsdale Public Art commissioned six temporary art installations to be on view over the four days, in addition to live music, hands-on activities, and the Scottsdale Artisan Market.

Voyage by Aether and Hemera, Canal Convergence 2013. Photo: Sean Deckert.

In 2014, Canal Convergence began a four-year run of springtime-only events. The 2014 event featured fun and interactive installations such as Happy Gift by FriendsWithYou and Land for Adoption by Vaughan Bell, as well as workshops and performances for all ages.

Happy Gift by FriendsWithYou, Canal Convergence 2014. Photo: Sean Deckert.

For the 2015 event, a spoken-word performance, Waterlogged: Storytelling @ Canal Convergence, joined the regular roster of artworks, live music, dance performances that interacted with the artworks, a beer and wine garden, and the Scottsdale Artisan Market.

The Pool by Jen Lewin, Canal Convergence 2015. Photo: Sean Deckert.

Canal Convergence 2016 was the first year installations were located west of Marshall Way Bridge, which activated the entire Scottsdale Waterfront. As a result, the overall number of installations and activities increased, including a presentation of short films from the Scottsdale International Film Festival and community workshops with Pilobolus Dance Collective.

Aerial View from Canal Convergence 2016. Photo: Aphidoidea.

In 2017, Canal Convergence took to the skies with the immensely popular Les Luminéoles by Porté par le vent—a series of five, larger-than-life flying fish that meandered about the Scottsdale Waterfront. Additionally, Canal Convergence offered eight other large-scale art installations, live community mural painting, Night Lights Bike Ride, a twilight dance performance by RIOULT, artist-led workshops and talks, live music, and the Two Brothers Beer + Food + Wine Garden.

Les Luminéoles by Porté par le vent, Canal Convergence 2017. Photo: Sean Deckert.

Between 2012 and 2017 Canal Convergence changed in multiple ways. Every year the event grew not only in size and scope, but in attendance as well, and this increase did not go unnoticed by the City of Scottsdale.

In the third and final Canal Convergence history blog post, we will learn how, with help from the City of Scottsdale’s Tourism Development Commission, Canal Convergence made its most recent transformation from a four-day event to a ten-day event, and more.

(For Part 1 of this series, click here.)

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