February 23-24 & March 2-3, 2018
A tranquil canal that slices through a chic section of downtown Scottsdale, Arizona, is the attractive setting for an annual exhibition of large-scale, temporary, and site-specific art installations. Called Canal Convergence: Water + Art + Light, the Scottsdale Public Art event takes place February 23-24 and March 2-3, 2018. It features internationally known as well as local artists exploring innovative materials and processes while taking advantage of the water’s calming and reflective qualities. Also planned are art workshops, artist talks, and musical and dance performances.
Canal Convergence, which is in its sixth year, takes over a quarter-mile stretch of the Arizona Canal where dirt paths give way to paved walkways, grassy areas, and al fresco dining. Previous iterations have included large light-based installationsby Bruce Munro (fall/winter 2015-16) and Grimanesa Amorós (summer 2015), among others.
The main attraction this season, though, is Reflection Rising by Patrick Shearn and Poetic Kinetics. Like the outsize tail of a Chinese dragon kite, the work hovers above the canal, undulating slightly with the breeze. Made of thousands of ripstop nylon streamers, it measures about three football fields and is suspended from trees and poles through a network of barely visible wires. The installation’s bright colors are subtly reflected in the water during the day but become luminous as the sun sets, thanks to lighting effects. Over the years, Shearn and his team have erected giant kinetic sculptures for Burning Man in Nevada and other outdoor festivals.
Playing with sound as well as light is Globoscope by Collectif Coin. Composed of about 250 bowling ball–sized spheres amassed on a grassy area, the installation mesmerizes the eye with lights that rhythmically flicker to ethereal sound effects. On the more meditative side is FLAWLESS by Studio ALEX—Architectural Light Experience. Suspended leaf shapes “fall” and turn phosphorescent green as day turns to night. Desert Sun by Jotta Studio is a steel semicircle floating above the water whose LED effects mimic the sun’s appearance from sunrise to sunset. For visitors seeking a more participatory experience, Canal Convergence offers Barter Boat by RADAR Art: Robin Schwartzman, Anna Abhau Elliott, and Desiree Moore. Set up to resemble a steamboat, the installation lets visitors trade small items or personal stories for trinkets from the artists.
A schedule of events at canalconvergence.com lists artist talks, art workshops, and performances, with entertainment concentrated at the Soleri Bridge and Plaza. Prime viewing time is sunset, although the sound and lighting effects operate all four evenings of the event from 4 to 10 pm. Admission is free.
A new slate of lighted installations is scheduled for this November, when Canal Convergence shifts to being an annual fall event. One of the main attractions will be ARIZONA! by Choi + Shine, a banner of lacy white panels, crocheted by community members, that will appear to twist right above the water. As in winter months, expect balmy desert evenings to enhance the water/art/light experience.