Celebrating 10 years of bringing Scottsdale to life with an exciting range of public art exhibitions, Canal Convergence is back this month with a new theme—Water + Art + Light—and a new roster of dazzling works.
“Trillian InSpires” by HYBYCOZO shines like golden jewels by day and by night, casting colorful light and intricate shadows. PHOTO COURTESY OF HYBYCOZO
NicoleOlson|MovementChaos performs during Canal Convergence 2019. PHOTO BY SEAN DECKERT
Featuring a roster of artists from both near and far, Canal Convergence has grown from a two-day grassroots event into what it is today: a global destination for celebrating large-scale public art along the Scottsdale waterfront. This year’s event, running Nov. 4 through 13 and themed Art + Light + Water, may be larger and flashier than it was a decade ago, but its goal remains the same.
“The purpose of public art is to create community engagement out in the public,” says assistant director of Canal Convergence Jennifer Gill. “A lot of people think of museums and galleries when they think of art. But there’s this whole other world of public art and temporary public art that we like to bring to Scottsdale and show that it’s about the experience,” she explains. “There are passive meditative pieces. There’s exciting performative pieces like our Walter Productions fire shows. It’s a fun, entertaining community-based experience that’s... here for everybody, no matter where you’re coming from. I love that.”
Suspended above the Arizona Canal, “SunDrops” by Jeff Zischke is an animated light show that references desert sunrises and sunsets RENDERING BY JEFF ZISCHKE
This being the 10-year anniversary, visitors can expect a mix of work from new artists (AlexP, Angela Fraleigh and Josh Miller, and Pneuhaus and Bike Powered Events) and fan favorites from years past (B!G ART, Hector Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena, HYBYCOZO, Immerge Interactive, Walter Productions and Jeff Zischke). Gill’s curation will feature works that are both interactive and passive. “When curating, I try to create a nice balance so that there’s something for everyone,” she says.
Each piece will have a corresponding QR code, so visitors can dive deep if they so desire. And beyond that, there’s even more than meets the eye. “We’ve instituted augmented reality through the Hoverlay app,” Gill says, noting that specific AR works were commissioned for the event. “There’s an activation point that you’ll hold your phone up to and you can see any number of crazy, wonderful things appear in front of you. It’s a way to have this really interesting public art intervention into a space without having the physical footprint.”
Walter Productions creates artwork-based fire shows each year at the event, like this 2021 installation titled “Floom”; PHOTO BY CHRIS LOOMIS
Whether it be artwork, workshops, performances or even a beer festival, sustainability is top of mind. “Our goal is to be a zero-waste event,” Gill says, noting that brews at the beer festival—available at Canal Convergence only—are made by local breweries with recycled gray water.
“WHEN ARTISTS GET AHOLD OF A CERTAIN SPACE AND A CERTAIN THEME, IT’S AMAZING WHAT THEY CAN COME UP WITH.” –JENNIFER GILL
NicoleOlson|MovementChaos performs at Canal Convergence 2021. PHOTO BY CHRIS LOOMIS
So what does Gill think Canal Convergence will look like 10 years from now? “We want to continue to expand our events beyond the waterfront and start incorporating more of the local businesses and different community partners,” she says. “One of the great things about public art is how it activates spaces. When artists get ahold of a certain space and a certain theme, it’s amazing what they can come up with.” canalconvergence.com