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Downtown Phoenix artwork goes up next week; see it on webcam

[Source: Corey Schubert, ASU and Joyce Valdez, City of Phoenix] — ASU’s College of Public Programs has reactivated its live webcam to share a “dean’s-eye view” of the installation of artist Janet Echelman’s floating net sculpture at the Downtown Civic Space Park.  The sculpture, titled “Her secret is patience,” is set to be installed March 9 to 12.  The design of the sculpture was inspired by Arizona’s distinctive monsoon cloud formations, and by saguaro flowers and boots (which form inside the cactus).  Its title comes from a quote by poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.”

The webcam view from the sixth floor of the college, located next to the park in downtown Phoenix, overlooks the two giant steel rings which will help support the sculpture.  The webcam can be accessed online here.  It is housed in the offices of Debra Friedman, university vice president and dean of the College of Public Programs at the Downtown Phoenix campus.

The flexible netting will be suspended 38 feet above the ground on a framework of steel rings, cables and poles.  The artwork will rise to an overall height of 100 feet and be about 100 feet wide at the top.  Special lighting will make the sculpture visible as a landmark at night.  The structure that will support the art sculpture was a complicated feat of engineering that was recognized with the Excellence in Structural Engineering Award from the Arizona Structural Engineers Association.

When opened next month, the 2.77-acre Downtown Civic Space Park will include several large grassy areas, spaces with game tables, an interactive water feature, public seating and hardscape where student organizations can network, much like they do outside ASU’s Memorial Union in Tempe, and Phoenicians and visitors can mingle.  [Note: To read the ASU Web Devil’s coverage of the event, click here.  For more information, click on Fact Sheet, FAQ, and Press Release.]

Downtown Phoenix sculpture gets a name, and it’s not “jellyfish”

"Her secret is patience" patiently awaits its netting (Photo: Arizona Republic)

[Source: Connie Cone Sexton, Arizona Republic] — For almost a year, Sky Bloom has been the working title for a public art sculpture being created for a downtown Phoenix park.   The name fit, in part, because it represents the sculpture’s design: a floating saguaro cactus flower.  But on Tuesday, Boston artist Janet Echelman unveiled the formal name she has chosen — Her secret is patience.  It is half of the full line — “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience” — by poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.  The name is also fitting, as the piece has been both hailed and questioned during the past months.  Now, with the last element of the piece to be added in early March, the patience of the public is soon to be rewarded, allowing them to judge the piece as a whole.

Echelman discussed her work at the Phoenix Art Museum.  During the evening, she was congratulated time and again by audience members.  She stressed that the piece wouldn’t be possible without the collaboration of a wide-ranging team.  The group includes the Phoenix Arts and Culture Office; CAID Industries, a Tucson metal-fabrication specialist; EDAW, a landscape architectural firm in Phoenix; M3 Engineers of Tucson, which made the structural steel; Speranza Architecture in Barcelona; designer Buro Happold from New York; ForeSite Design and Construction from Tempe which did the foundation in the park; Nexus Steel of Tempe, which erected the steel posts; Diamond Nets of Washington state, which is weaving the netting; and NETServices also of Washington state, which will install the netting.

That many companies with Arizona connections could take some of the fight out of naysayers who questioned the piece since it was approved by the City Council in 2007.  The project is being funded by the city’s Percent for Art program.  The sculpture is to be an iconic piece for the 2.77-acre Civic Space downtown park being developed between Central and First avenues, and Van Buren and Fillmore streets.

Echelman profusely thanked Valley residents for standing up for her project.  At one point in late 2007, some city leaders suggested it be cut.  A groundswell of support helped push it forward.  “I am privileged,” Echelman said to the audience.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Will this view of Phoenix’s “floating jellyfish” exist anymore?

In Downtown Phoenix by Daniel Greene.

Photographer Daniel Greene wonders if this view will exist anymore once the “floating jellyfish” public art piece is installed over its suspended rings at the new Civic Space park. To view more of Daniel’s photos of downtown Phoenix on Flickr, click here.

Civic Space “Sky Bloom” artist to lecture at Phoenix Art Museum, Feb. 10

Janet Echelman, creator of “Sky Bloom,” the monumental outdoor sculpture at the new downtown Phoenix Civic Space at Taylor Street and Central Avenue, will hold a free public lecture entitled, “Her Secret is Patience.”

  • Date: Tuesday, February 10, 2009
  • Time: 7 p.m.
  • Place: Phoenix Art Museum, Whiteman Hall, Central at McDowell
  • Admission: Free (with refreshments to follow)
  • Sponsor: Bentley Gallery/Bentley Projects

Major new parks and artworks have helped to turn urban spaces worldwide into “must-see” destinations.  According to project proponents and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program, the new Downtown Civic Space with its monumental sculpture by Ms. Echelman will accomplish that in Phoenix.

Rising 90 feet above the ground, the artwork’s floral form was inspired by the bloom of the saguaro cactus — Arizona’s state flower. Built with structural steel tubing and flexible netting made from a woven fiber, the sculpture will be suspended approximately 38 feet above the ground on an armature of steel rings, support poles, and cables.   The steel structure will hold the sculpture safely in place, allowing its light weight netting to billow in the wind.   The artwork’s predominant daytime colors will be blue, violet, and yellow. Specialized lighting at night will give the sculpture a landmark presence at night.

One goal of this iconic public sculpture and surrounding park is to join the growing list of public and private initiatives revitalizing downtown Phoenix.

Downtown Phoenix Civic Space floating sculpture nears completion

[Connie Cone Sexton, Arizona Republic] — Sky Bloom, the much-debated public art piece taking shape in a downtown Phoenix park, is about to get its final installment: more than 600 pounds of netting that will be affixed to the two blue steel rings already in place.  It’s just what the sculpture’s naysayers and fans have been waiting for.  When it was first approved by the Phoenix City Council in late 2007, its size, design, and $2.4 million price tag became a hot topic.  Some argued it was a waste of money; others said it gave Phoenix a cultural boost and gave jobs to Arizonans, including a Tucson engineering firm, to help create the piece.

The giant rings, erected in June, are the hub of what will be a 100-foot-tall, 100-foot-wide floating net sculpture.  It was designed by Boston artist Janet Echelman with a goal to be the focal point of the 2.7-acre park being developed between Central and First avenues, and Van Buren and Fillmore streets.

The polyester netting is being braided by a company in Washington state.  “The fabric is variegated, to give the appearance of various shades of blue,” said John Neal, vice president of Diamond Nets Inc.  He said they will be finished within a few weeks.  City officials will coordinate with the ongoing development of the park on the right time to attach the net but estimate it will happen before early March, possibly in February.  [Note: To view the full article, click here.  To view a 24/7 webcam of Civic Space construction, click here.]

Up goes downtown Phoenix Civic Space artwork

Click on me and you'll get a larger view of everything in the photo!Blogger “Downtown Resident” took this amazing photo of Janet Echelman’s public art piece now under construction at the downtown Phoenix Civic Space. 

By doing a word search on “Echelman” on this website (upper right), you’ll get a flavor for the artwork’s “ups and downs” of gaining final approval by City leaders.  But that’s all water under the bridge, and the artwork, dubbed “Sky Bloom,” is going up, up, up.