How can a major metropolitan area prove to you that it has wonderful art, even if you never step into a museum or gallery? Here are several examples of visual art in surprising places:
#7 In the Bragg’s Pie Factory parking lot on Grand Avenue
Methinks I love Dr. Seuss, thus this snapshot of part of the mural on the perimeter of a parking lot — artist unknown.
#6 Inside the Tempe Center for the Arts
Theatergoers can take in this public art piece by Mayme Kratz and Mark Ryan called “trueNorth” (2007). Constructed of concrete, resin, stainless steel and fire, it is best viewed up close, where you can notice the bits of paper and other materials secreted away in the fiery resin knobs.
#5 Grounds of the Heard Museum
In conjunction with the 2014 Indian Fair & Market, one of Arizona’s best-known street artists, Thomas “Breeze” Marcus, completed a 450-square-foot mural in five days for an exterior wall of the Heard’s Steele Auditorium. Called “The Power of Mother Earth,”the mural is a striking addition, but you need to drive around to the rear parking lot to see it.
#4 Grounds of the Heard Museum North in Scottsdale
After a scenic drive on Scottsdale Road toward Carefree, as it heads away from resorts and shopping and into a scrubby desert wonderland, stop at this satellite of the Heard to enjoy the small galleries, along with the cafe and gift shop. This sculpture by Doug Hyde is in the outdoor sculpture garden, which offers magnificent views of surrounding mountains at sunset.(Unfortunately, the Heard Museum North closed in 2014.)
#3 Grounds of the Heard Museum
Renovations and expansions in recent years have made the Heard lovelier than ever — the huge lawn, the architecture, the attention to showcasing Native American sculpture on the museum’s grounds. For instance, here’s “Khwee-seng (Woman-man),” a bronze by Nora Naranjo-Morse, in the courtyard near the bookstore.
#2 Grounds of the Phoenix Art Museum
Several sculptures in the courtyard and near the parking area command attention, proving that you don’t need to pay museum admission to see museum-caliber art. I happened to catch this Paolo Soleri sculpture in nice afternoon light. It’s made of Cor-ten steel treated with chlorine and acid and is called “Il Donnone,” Italian for “big woman.” I like the artist’s suggestion that a woman can reach beyond any boundaries.
#1 Burton Barr Central Library
The main desk can provide a brochure outlining the locations of several works of art inside the five-floor library, which in itself is one of the country’s architecturally significant public libraries.
For starters, gaze up at the ceiling of the fifth-floor Great Reading Room. As the library website explains, it is a floating ceiling suspended by cables, with nine skylights that track the sun. Every day provides different lighting, and the summer solstice serves as architect Will Bruder’s ode to the magic of light. Every June 20 or 21, right about noon, if you look up at the skylights, the pillars right below them look as if they are lit candles. Pretty cool