Art Walk and Talk — Converge at the Canal!
Let’s walk through the Scottsdale arts scene, past and present. We’ll start at Soleri Bridge and Plaza on the Arizona Canal. Where Downtown meets Old Town. Flanked by the Waterfront and across the canal’s bridges into Old Town, our tour begins. Why? Because art IS Scottsdale! Whether you’re the chic set or just regular people, art matters, and it’s a big part of what makes our city so fly.
- Art Walk and Talk — Converge at the Canal!
- Soleri Bridge and Plaza, Forging Old and New West
- Where Art Thou and Why?
- The Art Scene, Past and Present
- What is Scottsdale Arts Anyway?
- Scottsdale Arts Blends with Dining, Drinking and Shopping
- But Wait, There’s Scottsdazzle!
- Scottsdale’s Walkable Arts Scene
- Off the Beaten Path – Other Scottsdale Public Art
- Less Art and More Walking? The Arizona Canal Trails.
- Until we Meet Again Doing the Artsy Thing!
Early Sunday mornings, I like to grab a coffee and fresh pastry at Prep & Pastry at the Scottsdale Waterfront and take pictures. The Soleri Bridge is behind me.
Soleri Bridge and Plaza, Forging Old and New West
Soleri Bridge and Plaza was designed by local architect Paolo Soleri, an early Scottsdale artistic visionary. This is city’s newly deemed Solstice Park, our 43rd and smallest park. This functional art-piece bridges the Old and New West, as well as Arizona Canal. It’s our vital waterway with benefits.*
Together the Soleri Bridge and Plaza forge a gateway. Visitors and residents walk through a myriad of public art. And, the renowned gallery district lies just ahead, as we walk from N. to S.
It’s also the site of Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light held each November by Scottsdale Public Art. We celebrate the importance of water to Arizona, and spotlight our love of art.
Canal Convergence, November 2020 — a beautiful, warm night out in the fresh air, during Covid.
Where Art Thou and Why?
From nearly every vantage point in Downtown and Old Town Scottsdale, you can sense you’re someplace special. Can you feel the energy? It’s because we are a community immersed in the arts.
Nearly everywhere you look, you’ll see a public art piece. There are lots of horse sculptures for certain. We can’t help it. Horses ‘R Us. It’s in our bloodline (OK, mine and many others!).
And it’s more, with something to inspire everyone. Scottsdale’s arts scene curates an extraordinary backdrop of public art. Behind the scenes is a colossal effort by many. It takes a City to create an inclusive and vibrant sense of place for all who visit to feel special. Especially you!
Horsing around at the entrance to Gallery Row in Old Town — Scottsdale Road and Main Street — a horse with no name. If you recognize this pony, please let me know its provenance!
The Art Scene, Past and Present
Scottsdale’s arts scene began when artists flocked here in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Arizona Craftsman Court was built on Main Street in 1946 to corral them. A fine and enduring tradition is ours for keeps.
The Scottsdale Arts organization carries the vision today with a mission. To lead and define art for the public. They curate cultural events, plus art exhibitions and installations. Their goal is ‘creative place-making.’ They succeed in creating economic vitality.
What is Scottsdale Arts Anyway?
Scottsdale Arts partners with the City of Scottsdale, to put on our big art scene. Sit down because it’s a whole lot of art in the works.
Scottsdale Arts Blends with Dining, Drinking and Shopping
Today, Scottsdale’s art scene melds past with present. And, plays a role in creating a diverse artistic view of a quickly evolving Downtown | Old Town cityscape. Stroll past, gaze or wander into galleries along Fifth Avenue and Marshall Way.
You’ll enjoy moseying between sculptures, fountains and tree-covered courtyards. Restaurants, bars, live music, and cigars will entice you. Ice cream and gelato, plus a plethora of other shops to indulge every taste will beckon.
But Wait, There’s Scottsdazzle!
The Canal Convergence is followed by Scottsdazzle. You guessed it! A dazzling display of big-scale holiday art-pieces and festivities to celebrate the season in style.
Just in case you thought the holidays in Scottsdale are boring because we lack seasons. You can freeze your chaps off back home or you can gloat around Scottsdale in your holiday sweater in our un-winter wonderland.
Scottsdale’s Walkable Arts Scene
American Fine Art International Art Gallery, Old Town Scottsdale — Scottsdale Road and Main Street.
Scottsdale’s famed Art District and Gallery Row is home to the US’s oldest Art Walk (est. 1975), occurring every Thursday evening from 7:00 PM — 9:00 PM, hosted by the Scottsdale Gallery Association (SGA) . The SGA Art Walk brings together Scottsdale’s finest art, including the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Western Spirit.
In nice weather, you can also enjoy a 60-minute self-guided walking and Scottsdale Instagram captions and photo op tour. Hit 10 of Old Town’s favorite public art works — bronzes, fountains & interactive installations. Here’s a map. If walking’s not your jam, there are other ways to get around.
During April’s Valley Bike Month, Scottsdale participates in a guided Cycle the Arts tour of our public art.
Off the Beaten Path – Other Scottsdale Public Art
Lest you think our public art is only in Downtown and Old Town, you’ll have happy surprises to discover it from north to south and crisscrossing the City. See how much public art you can find — here’s a guide!
At the Promenade Shopping Center in North Scottsdale, there is an incredible Frank Lloyd Wright Commemorative Park, featuring The Spire — big and blue — you can’t miss it. The surprise is a sweet little park with amazing bronze sculptures by Heloise Crista.
Less Art and More Walking? The Arizona Canal Trails.
*From the Soleri Bridge and Plaza, hit the Arizona Canal multi-use trail in either direction. But first a little more art and history. Bet you didn’t know that the Arizona Canal trail includes a portion of the Pony Express Hashknife Trail, did you?
Here’s the bronze sculpture to prove it!
‘Passing the Legacy,’ Herb Mignery, 2008. At the Waterfront in Scottsdale, North Marshall Way & East Via Soleri Drive.
Now, go hit the trail, from this sculpture, your hotel, home or workplace. Enjoy an invigorating workout or leisurely intake of fresh air and sunshine.
Walking and running for humans and dogs? Yep. Cycling and horseback riding are allowed too. You’ll see fabulous views of the canal, mountains and cityscape architecture. You can also access the canal from businesses, resorts, neighborhoods and other trails the canal bisects.
What I like best about a good, flat, wide trail? You can’t fall off it like you can a mountain. And, it’s hard to fall into the canal! I’ll see you there, strolling, sight-seeing and getting in our steps.
Until we Meet Again Doing the Artsy Thing!
Thanks for taking the Scottsdale Arts tour with me! I invite you to visit and experience that giddy ’I have arrived’ feeling! See for yourself how Scottsdale’s art scene makes Downtown | Old Town forays memorable. You might see Superman Elvis while enjoying a gelato and people watching! See you there!
Scottsdale Lifestyle Blogger
I’m a 5th generation native Arizona gal who loves showing and telling what makes Scottsdale an amazing place to visit and make home! I hope you enjoy our city through my lens, making your own discoveries and memories here!