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Barbara Grygutis


Scottsdale Public Art worked with Tucson-based artist Barbara Grygutis to design a signature light-featured public art installation that would serve as a unique gateway to Scottsdale Civic Center via the Drinkwater Boulevard underpass. Breakaway incorporates a cast-aluminum bas-relief rope sculpture with turquoise-painted walls spanning the east and west sides of the more than 300-foot-long underpass.  

Grygutis states, “Breakaway magnifies and celebrates the beauty inherent in everyday objects. A rope is an ordinary, everyday object of Western ranch life. Roping remains a main rodeo skill for both men and women. Breakaway roping, an event featuring women ropers, is a rodeo skill in which a rider on horseback ropes a calf with the rope ’breaking away’ from the saddle once the calf runs out from the horse into the arena.” 

The artist continued, “As a vibrant, continuously growing community, Scottsdale has long been associated with equine activities. Horseback riding through the desert was a central activity of old Scottsdale life. Rodeo traditions such as calf roping extend deep in the city’s past. Breakaway embraces this strand of Scottsdale’s history and allows residents and guests alike to reflect on the evolution of ’The West’s Most Western Town.’ 

“Breakaway, as a work of art, seeks to translate this everyday iconography into contemporary, lyrical, and visually exciting imagery: constraint, freedom, immersion in tradition, and a breakaway into a new future.”

“Rope, the twisting together of fibers into a sturdy unified length, is evocative. Entering the cultural center of Scottsdale through the Drinkwater Underpass, Breakaway provides viewers a tool to reflect on the many strands of influence needed to fortify a contemporary culture within a community.”  

The underpass is located along Drinkwater Boulevard between 2nd Street and 1st Avenue and can be viewed while driving in either direction. 


LocationScottsdale Civic Center, 7343 E Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA

ArtistBarbara Grygutis

DatesCompleted April 2024

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