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Jon Arvizu, MoD a+p, Ty Gillespie, John Randall Nelson, and TEAM COART

Scottsdale Gateway Marker Project

Scottsdale Public Art is teaming up with the City of Scottsdale to update and provide a contemporary look to the gateway markers for residents and visitors entering Scottsdale. For this project, five artists and artist teams were chosen by a selection panel and were asked to propose designs for new gateway markers.

The new markers will be designed to reflect Scottsdale’s unique character. Consequently, there may be more than one design awarded as Scottsdale’s character can change depending on location.

During the month of January, we asked the public to give us feedback on the five finalists’ designs and rate which one(s) they liked best. Now that the public comment period is over, the feedback will be considered by an artist selection panel, which will choose the artist(s) or artist team(s). The selected artist(s) or artist team(s) will be announced at the end of February or early March 2020, and fabrication will begin.



Jon Arvizu—Scottsdale, Arizona

Jon Arvizu Gateway Marker

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Proposal: This design concept features a 42-inch, golden-colored sun cast in brass with desert imagery, including saguaro and mountains. It is set against a masonry base that echoes the architecture of Scottsdale City Hall and incorporates bronze-colored aluminum letters. In front of the masonry base is a low, decorative wall made of stacked stone. The wall represents mountains hugging the setting sun of the brass seal. The angles of the masonry base and stone wall reflect the Mid-Century Modern design of some local buildings. Dimensions: 54” high x 96” wide x 30” deep.

Artist: Artist, designer, and Scottsdale resident Jon Arvizu has been professionally involved in advertising and the fine arts for more than 19 years. His illustration and design work has been featured through a variety of publications and clients, some of which include Netflix, Popular Science, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews, Frito-Lay, Quaker Oats Co., Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, and the National Football League. Arvizu’s retro modern serigraphs and fine art prints are available at and at local retail partners in Phoenix and Tucson. At High Jinks Apparel, Arvizu and his wife, Jenn, produce a line of well-crafted graphic tees, hats, patches, and accessories. For Arvizu, the spunky Arizona-themed apparel line is a family affair. Take one illustrator, add one witty project manager, toss in two spirited boys, and you’ve got certified boisterous fun.

Ty Gillespie—Paonia, Colorado

Ty Gillespie

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Proposal: This design concept features a double horsehead sculpture cut from 3/16-inch silicon bronze or, potentially, brushed stainless steel. It would sit atop a 6-foot-high column of weathering steel with the City name spelled out vertically. The steel column is bolted to a concrete foundation. The artist says this concept is meant to capture the spirit of Scottsdale’s nickname as “The West’s Most Western Town.” Each of the 13 markers in this proposal would be identical to potentially be used with a wild horses-themed branding initiative. Dimensions: 114” high x 41” wide x 24” deep.

Artist: Ty Gillespie has been producing art since he was in grade school, winning numerous art and design competitions along the way. In 1968, he graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor of architecture, and for 20 years, he operated Design Concepts, an award-winning store display company in San Francisco that supplied major department stores across the United States and Canada. The next six years, he and his wife, Helen, sailed around the world on their 38-foot sloop, the Azura. Upon returning, they opened Azura Studios, an art studio in Minturn, Colorado. Then, in 2007, they opened the Azura Winery + Gallery in Paonia, Colorado. In recent years, Gillespie has entered and won several major public art competitions.

MoD a+p—Phoenix, Arizona

Mod a+p

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Proposal: This design concept proposes the use of rusted metal panels slicing through a poured-in-place, board-formed concrete wall with weeping edges. The form of the rusted metal panels are an abstract representation of the mountains and the natural desert landscape merging together with the concrete base—becoming one. The combination of natural materials with striking contemporary forms represents the integration of the old with the new and the harmony of nature with the built environment. Dimensions: 63” high x 120” wide by 70” deep.

Artist: MoD a+p is a progressive design firm that has been embedded within the greater Phoenix metro community for nearly 10 years. Our focus on design, urban planning, and placemaking has led to multi-family, urban infill, adaptive re-use, and urban planning projects that enrich and connect communities. With innovative design solutions, materials, and a keen sensitivity to how each project relates to its surrounding context, we have designed numerous projects in downtown and historic districts of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley as well as other cities within the United States. All of our team members have been Valley residents for over 15 years with one of our members living in Scottsdale for 34 years. Together, we have personally watched the Valley of the Sun develop, and we truly understand the historic, artistic, and architectural richness of the city.

John Randall Nelson—Tempe, Arizona

John Randall Nelson

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Proposal: This design concept features 13 unique cairn designs alongside gateway signs made from steel plates with a natural rust patina and laser-cut aluminum letters. Inspired by the surrounding desert, including the McDowell Mountains, the cairns reference geologic shapes and the dusky glow of the desert landscape. Each cairn—a structure often used to mark trailheads—will be made from cast concrete topped with a colorful, sculptural flora element, cut from plate steel and patterned after plants native to the Sonoran Desert. Cairn dimensions: 70” high x 18” wide x 18” deep. Sign dimensions: 48” high x 76” wide x 4” deep.

Artist: Tempe-based artist John Randall Nelson is inspired by the idea of creating a social conversation through the use of sign and symbol. His focus is on projects that are thoughtful and functional. The mission is to encourage the public to interact and engage with the work. With 18 years of public art experience, he has successfully collaborated with other artists, contractors, municipalities, engineers, and the public. He has completed commissions for clients as diverse as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Visa Corporation, and the cities of Tempe, Scottsdale, and Phoenix, in Arizona, and Sante Fe, New Mexico.

TEAM COART—Phoenix, Arizona

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Proposal: This design concept includes numerous designs that follow a single concept of a large “S” atop a monument with lettering. Each monument would stand 7 feet tall and is inspired by the tradition of Western towns marking hillsides with large letters and the use of typography in Pop art. The artist proposes using a variety of materials—including rusted patina metal, aluminum, blackened metal, colored glass rounds, and concrete—to stylize each “S” with distinct designs based on different character traits of the City. Dimensions: 84” high x 42” wide x 20” deep.

Artist: Julie Wolf leads the TEAM COART. Throughout her career as an environmental graphic artist, Wolf has strived to evoke an emotional connection to places. She chooses the built environment for her canvas, punctuating the cityscapes, civic parks, cultural destinations, and trailheads navigated by residents and visitors alike. Wolf is passionate about connecting people to place and connecting movement to the environment. For the past 25 years, she has been a principal in charge of Thinking Caps Design Studio, crafting experiential graphic design for brand identity, wayfinding, and interpretive information systems in the built environment. Wolf is known for balancing clarity and delight in her urban designs. She engages in alchemy, simmering away the non-essentials to discern the pure essence of an identity before rendering it dimensionally. She has an extensive background in design for civic and cultural destinations, from parks to convention centers and performing arts institutions—all serving local communities. She has delivered visually articulate projects with local municipalities, including Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix, Peoria, and Chandler, several of which involved extensive stakeholder engagement. Wolf has a bachelor of fine arts from Arizona State University.

She is joined on TEAM COART by Jeremiah Scheffer and Eric Bolze. Scheffer is an industrial designer with Thinking Caps Design, co-developing concepts and conscientiously detailing the material selection and technical specifications. The final creation is influenced by Bolze, an extraordinary craftsman and civil engineer who brings dimensionality to the design through sculptural fabrication, finishing, and installation. For more than two decades, Bolze’s firm, E Squared Innovations, has employed state-of-the-art equipment, processes, and technology to fabricate signage and artistic sculptures for the environment. Thinking Caps Design and E Squared Innovations have 20 years of experience in partnering and successfully delivering custom solutions for the public to enjoy.


LocationScottsdale, AZ, USA

ArtistJon Arvizu, MoD a+p, Ty Gillespie, John Randall Nelson, and TEAM COART

DatesTo be determined

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