July 2, 2023

IN FLUX: A Look at Past Artists

Scottsdale Public Art created the IN FLUX program in 2010 as an artistic response to empty storefronts due to the recession. It has since expanded as a Valley-wide collaborative program and has included installations over the years in Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix, Peoria, Glendale, Avondale, Gilbert, Mesa, Goodyear, and Chandler. As the IN FLUX program comes to an end, we caught up with some of the artists who participated in the program each cycle. The artists revisit their experience with IN FLUX and share what they have been doing since participating in the program. Stay tuned to our website and social media accounts for announcements as we redefine our temporary public art program in Scottsdale.

Pollination artwork by Melissa Martinez. Photo: Jessie Tallman.

Artist: Melissa Martinez

Tell us about your experience with the IN FLUX program.

In 2010, I received a phone call from Kirstin Van Cleef with Scottsdale Public Art. She told me about a cool idea and asked if I could participate. In 2008, when the real estate market crashed, unfortunately, it led to many retail spaces in the Old Town Scottsdale arts district closing. The storefronts were vacant with “for rent” signs and had been sitting empty for a while. Kirstin had spoken with landlords about using the spaces, filling them with art so that the streets would look beautiful and allow artists to exhibit their work in Old Town Scottsdale. Each artist was offered a commission to create an eye-catching window display. I was one of the first artists in the new IN FLUX program. We figured it out as we went along; it was fun and exciting!

While planning for the installation, I found out I was pregnant. I decided to make an artwork about that experience, and I wanted to make something using what was traditionally considered a woman’s craft, sewing. I made larger-than-life, hand-sewn flowers, an artwork titled Pollination that is now part of the permanent collection of Scottsdale Public Art.

Pollination was my first public art commission; this opportunity, combined with learning I was pregnant, helped me make a decision that had been a dream of mine for many years. I quit my day job as the senior exhibit designer at the Heard Museum to make artwork full-time. My new journey had begun!

I was commissioned a few years later for IN FLUX Cycle 3 by the city of Glendale, this time at Westgate Mall. The space where we were setting up was next door to a splash pad and an ice cream shop. I made something I hoped the kids and families would enjoy—dancing jellyfish! This artwork, Shimmy, Shimmy, Shake, is now part of the city of Glendale’s public art collection.

Visit Glendale’s website to learn more about that city’s public art program.

What was memorable about the IN FLUX process? 

What was memorable? The whole thing! The experience, the process, the team, and the places that it has led me. Incredible experience. Thank you to everyone involved!

Since participating in IN FLUX, what have you been up to?

“Today, I am back to work full-time at the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa. Our museum is an art museum for children, and it is an exceptional place. We are working on a major renovation; construction of phase 1 should be completed by 2025. I have pursued another creative hobby, growing carnivorous plants and making terrariums. This hobby is fascinating, and I love learning about all these truly specialized plants. Of course, I am still always creating some artwork or another! Most recently, I created an interactive sculpture at the Mesa Arts Center campus and a series of gouaches that were on display at Greenwood Brewing.

Follow Melissa Martinez on Instagram at @howestreetstudio to see more of her artwork.

Peter Bugg and his wife, Melissa McGurgan, at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA). Photo: Charles Darr. 

Artist: Peter Bugg

Tell us about your experience with the IN FLUX program.

I participated as an artist with the city of Tempe in 2012 for IN FLUX Cycle 2. I worked with Maja Aurora on a storefront design in the former Border’s Bookstore on Mill Avenue, which I think is a bank now. Since 2017, I have served as the visual arts coordinator for the city of Chandler. In the past six years, I have had the pleasure of working on wonderful IN FLUX projects with Eli Richard (Cycle 7), Pete Goldlust and Melanie Germond (Cycle 8), Nick Rascona (Cycle 9), and Lily Reeves (Cycle 10).

Visit the city of Tempe website and follow the city’s arts program on Instagram at @tempecityarts to learn more about Tempe’s public art program.

Visit the city of Chandler’s website to learn more about the city’s public art program.

What was memorable about the IN FLUX process? 

I have enjoyed helping and watching artists grow. Eli Richard and Nick Rascona have done much larger public art projects since their initial IN FLUX projects. I’ve appreciated being part of their journeys—helping them create better projects without additional labor.

Since participating in IN FLUX, what have you been up to?

Since I participated as an IN FLUX artist in 2012, I’ve married, bought a house, and landed a fantastic job in Chandler. At over six years, it’s the longest job I’ve ever had, and I’ve enjoyed getting to help influence the visual culture of the Valley.

Anything else you would like to share?

We live in a beautiful state with many talented artists. I hope that people can appreciate the abundance of public art here.

To see more of Peter Bugg’s work and visual arts in Chandler, follow @plbugg and @visiongalleryaz on Instagram.

Bobby Zokaites among his artworks. Photo: Grey Shed Studio.

Artist: Bobby Zokaites

Tell us about your experience with the IN FLUX program.

I participated twice in the IN FLUX program, for Cycle 4 in Gilbert and Cycle 8 in Peoria. For Cycle 4, in which I created Boone’s FlugelhornI was still in grad school and experimenting with different materials. This was my first foray into city-based public art with a structured program. Working with temporary materials through a program like IN FLUX can be liberating.

To learn more about public art in Gilbert, visit the city’s interactive art map and Discover Gilbert for news about arts and culture.

Visit the city of Peoria’s website to learn more about the city’s public art program and follow the city’s Arts & Culture Department on Facebook and on Instagram at @peoriaazarts.

What was memorable about the IN FLUX process?

For Cycle 8, I made a figurative yucca plant, Yucca Oraxlie, out of steel, and the project manager came up with the idea of putting the identification card in the botanical vernacular. This is an example of the uniqueness of collaboration that can occur when you start working in public art.

Since participating in IN FLUX, what have you been up to?

Since first participating in IN FLUX, I have established myself as a public artist in the Valley. In 2015, I received a big permanent public art commission at the Phoenix Country Day School and completed a work titled The Oculus. I have been working on more permanent works and am grateful to now be on a good rhythm of working on projects that span the length of about three to seven years. Recently, I opened my first indoor art show in the Valley since graduate school at the Mesa Arts Center, which is open all summer. I have been working on woven work extensively in the last three years, and am happy to have come a long way since that first IN FLUX experience.

Anything else you would like to share?

A good thing for newer public artists to know is that art administrators are always hunting for new talent in the Valley, and temporary art programs like IN FLUX are a good way to get that first project and experience. Keep applying, and do not be discouraged; I put in over 200 applications for public art projects last year and heard back from 13 of them.

See more of Bobby’s work here and on Instagram and on Twitter at @bobbyzokaites.

Magnesium Maggie public artwork by Daniel Moore.

Artist: Daniel Moore

Tell us about your experience with the IN FLUX program.

I participated in IN FLUX Cycle 7 with Scottsdale Public Art. The artwork I created for that cycle, Ellipses, is a series of three monolithic steel panels representing the fundamental physical relationship between objects in space.

What was memorable about the IN FLUX process? 

“One of the most interesting things about the IN FLUX program is that you can tailor your art to a specific location. In my case, the location consisted of three preexisting spaces. I aimed to somehow tie these separate locations together with a single concept. The program offers an artist the opportunity to display their work in a public space and the ability to do so on a large scale while getting compensated for it.

Since participating in IN FLUX, what have you been up to?

Since IN FLUX Cycle 7, I have been very active in submitting to public art RFQs. I’ve been a finalist in 18 and was awarded 10 here in the Valley; Tucson; Augusta, Georgia; Henderson, Nevada; and Oklahoma City. IN FLUX served as a stepping stone into public art and art in public places. In addition to public art, I’ve continued to grow my business to cater to residents and businesses who like creative metalwork in their environments.

Anything else you would like to share? 

I am thankful for the opportunity, and I hope to be able to participate in a similar program again.

See more of Daniel Moore’s work here, and follow him on Instagram at @theoxidestudio.  

Check back soon as we hear from other IN FLUX artists as a part of this blog series!

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