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Christine Tanz and Paul Edwards

Water to Water

Located at the entrance of the Scottsdale Water Campus, Water to Water starts with a perforated metal wall, an abstraction of the kitchen, bathroom and garden walls through which water arrives to us. As people approach the wall, it springs to life. Sensors along the path trigger large shower heads to begin sprinkling one after the other. A small chorus of faucets also joins in. The high-tech water treatment facility, set in the desert, provides an object lesson: one from which we learn that life can flourish in these unlikely surroundings. It shows how our technological adaptations mirror that of the cacti that flourish in the arid surroundings.

Behind the wall, people discover and pass between a network of pipes that feed the water features on the front. Unlike most fountains, this one lets its plumbing show. It heralds the unheralded beauty of the technology. The pipes rise out of a reservoir which in turn is fed from the stream that is a centerpiece of the facility’s landscaping. After the water passes through the various fixtures, it returns to the stream. The sculpture presents a vignette of the complete water cycle—from the sources in nature to its domestication for our use, to its disposal and return to nature.

Using only a small amount of water, the sculpture gives people a variegated experience of water, letting them walk over it on an open grating and through it as it travels in the pipes, letting them hear the sound of it falling and see it splashing in a variety of patterns. Light plays off the stream onto the reflective surface of the wall. The filigree of its perforated-metal skin and uni-strut skeleton creates interesting shadow patterns on the water. The garden surrounding the wall includes numerous cacti. The special features of these extraordinary plants are adaptations to the excessively dry climate in which they exist. The shapes of the cactus, their ubiquitous needles, the sticky coating on creosote, the tiny leaves of the Palo Verde and the here-today-gone-tomorrow leaves of the ocotillo, all are ways of achieving one goal: to conserve water.

Edwards is a licensed architect with a bachelor’s degree from University of Arizona.  In 1990 he received the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CSRI) Design Award. Artist, author and psychologist, Christine Tanz earned her doctorate and master’s degrees in psychology from the University of Chicago.  Her bachelors in history and literature is from Harvard University. Edwards and Tanz are both residents of Tucson, where they have been active members of the public art and design community. Both were instrumental in stimulating recognition of Tucson ‘s mural legacy in by writing Art Plan for Metropolitan Tucson.


Location8787 East Hualapai Drive, Scottsdale, AZ, USA

ArtistChristine Tanz and Paul Edwards

DatesCompleted 1999

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