Press Release, Public Art

April 25, 2024

MEDIA CONTACT: Sydney Ritter | [email protected] | 480-874-4663

New public artwork connects Scottsdale’s past and present

Scottsdale Public Art and artist Barbara Grygutis installed “Breakaway” in the Drinkwater Boulevard underpass below Scottsdale Civic Center. Photo: Brian Passey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A new public artwork has joined the Scottsdale Public Art Permanent Collection to liven up the area under Scottsdale Civic Center. 

“Breakaway” is a cast aluminum sculpture depicting a rope with various knots by Tuscon artist Barbara Grygutis. The artwork stretches along both the east and west sides of the Drinkwater Boulevard underpass below Scottsdale Civic Center. 

“We’ve always talked about ‘Breakaway’ as an entryway to the arts district and the city,” said Tanya Galin, public art manager for Scottsdale Public Art, a department of the nonprofit Scottsdale Arts. “‘Breakaway’ has a contemporary feel, yet it harkens back to Scottsdale’s slogan as ‘The West’s Most Western Town.’ There’s a bit of the old and the new, past and the present.” 

Grygutis drew inspiration from everyday objects and how they reflect our lives. Rope is a common object with many uses and meanings to many people. Rope is not one thing, and Grygutis thinks that public art should be the same. 

“The beauty of public art is that everybody who looks at it sees something different, and I liked that,” said Grygutis. “Sometimes people give me interpretations of my work that I didn’t even think about. They saw something different. That’s a beautiful thing.” 

“Breakaway” was molded and cast in aluminum sculpture by Bollinger Atelier, an art foundry and fabricator located in Tempe. Multiple pieces of the 8-inch-thick rope sculpture then required assembly, cleaning and finishing. Skilled artisans completed each step by hand. The resulting artwork includes two 300-foot lengths on both sides of the underpass, totaling 600 feet of rope connecting Scottsdale’s past and present. 

The idea for “Breakaway” goes back to 2018 during a conversation with Scottsdale city officials, said Dr. Gerd Wuestermann, president and CEO of Scottsdale Arts. 

“We felt there was such a missed opportunity, with hundreds of cars passing through each day without realizing the amazing arts campus they were crossing,” Wuestemann said. “We envisioned this concept of a significant public art piece becoming a marquee for the emerging Scottsdale Civic Center campus.” 

After four years of prepping and planning, this new installation is the finishing touch for the entire Civic Center project. “Breakaway” ropes together Scottsdale’s western legacy and an exciting and innovative future. 

“How do you bridge Scottsdale tradition with a futuristic view? You animate it,” said Grygutis. “There’s this concept of the Old West, but there’s also the concept of the future. All those things go together; you can respect your tradition, but you have to look to the future.” 

Scottsdale Arts will be holding a dedication of “Breakaway” at 10 a.m. Friday, May 3, in the northbound lanes of the Drinkwater Boulevard underpass. Attendees will meet on the lower level of the Scottsdale Civic Center Library parking garage on the north side, closest to the library. The dedication will include speeches, light bites and an opportunity to meet the artist. To learn more about “Breakaway” and view photos of the artwork, visit