Colorful Art Fills Inactive Civic Center Fountains

Colorful Art Fills Inactive Civic Center FountainsA series of inactive fountains near the popular LOVE sculpture in Scottsdale Civic Center Mall recently had an illuminating upgrade.

Instead of water, the fountains are now filled with art. Sun Lanterns by Eli Richard is an art installation featuring 23 solar-powered, multi-colored plexiglass and steel lanterns. In February, Richard installed the lanterns in the non-functioning fountains, directly north of Robert Indiana's LOVE, near the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

The fountains are located at the center of Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, directly over Drinkwater Boulevard. They were shut off to prevent water from further damaging the bridge that spans Drinkwater Boulevard.

The city plans to renovate the Civic Center Mall, but because construction will not start for more than a year, Scottsdale Public Art was asked to find a creative design solution for the inactive fountains during the Civic Center Mall redesign phase. The city allocated $30,000 of Community Arts Trust funds for the project.

Scottsdale Public Art then released an open call for project proposals and eventually selected Richard, an emerging artist based in Tempe. Richard's proposal included plans for solar-powered, multi-colored lanterns of varying sizes to be installed throughout the fountains at multiple elevations. The solar panels would absorb energy from the sun during the day and use it to illuminate the plexiglass lanterns at night.

Richard's design was inspired by the "quiet beauty of the desert," including the dramatic colors of the local landscape, from verdant vegetation to multi-hued sunsets. "The color was also meant to bring a lot of energy to the space," Richard said.

Color is not only found in the lanterns themselves but in the shadows they cast on the fountains during the day - as the sun shines through them - and at night, when they are illuminated by the solar lights within their structure. Triggered by solar sensors, the lanterns flicker on, one by one, around twilight each night and turn off each morning with the rising sun.

Because of the redesign plans for the Civic Center Mall, Sun Lanterns is not a permanent installation. It is expected to remain in place for 18-24 months. It will then be donated to the City of Scottsdale for future public display.

Due to its prominent location in the Civic Center Mall, Sun Lanterns will greet a large amount of visitors this weekend for the annual Scottsdale Arts Festival from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

The mission of Scottsdale Public Art is to make Scottsdale one of the most desirable communities in the country in which to live, work and visit by incorporating art and design projects throughout. In 1985, the City of Scottsdale established Scottsdale Public Art with the goal to enhance the quality of life for its residents and visitors. Since then more than 100 permanent and temporary public artworks have been commissioned throughout the community. Scottsdale's program and projects have won local, regional and national awards.

Through its dynamic partnership with the City of Scottsdale, the nonprofit Scottsdale Arts (formerly known as Scottsdale Cultural Council) creates diverse, inspired arts experiences and educational and outreach opportunities for the community, while fostering active engagement of individuals, businesses, education and government with the arts. Since its founding in 1987, Scottsdale Arts has grown into a regionally and nationally significant, multi-disciplinary arts organization offering an exceptional variety of programs through three operating divisions - Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) and Scottsdale Public Art - serving more than 375,000 participants annually.

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