Scottsdale Public Arts Welcomes
LOCAL LIGHT and ONE-EYED JACK
text by Brian Passey photos courtesy of Scottsdale Public Art
Art lovers, mark October 25 on your calendar. That’s the day Scottsdale Public Art’s Local Light will begin to place light-based installations in Old Town and a larger-than-life rabbit sculpture will be dedicated at its permanent home on Marshall Way.
A new critter made his debut at the corner of Marshall Way and Indian School Road last month. The 26-foot-high, 20,000-pound white-painted jackrabbit sculpture, entitled One-Eyed Jack, was commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art. Fabricated at R.J. Ruff & Co. in Phoenix, the towering sculpture was designed to draw visitors to Marshall Way and the nearby galleries, restaurants and businesses in Old Town Scottsdale.
The creation of Tempe-based artist John Randall Nelson, the origins of this piece go back to 2014 with a group of business and property owners along Marshall Way, between Indian School Road and Fifth Avenue. They formed a stakeholders group to secure funding from the Scottsdale City Council for an entryway feature that would encourage residents and visitors to stop and explore the businesses along Marshall Way.
Scottsdale Public Art was charged with the task of bringing this project to realization. After a lengthy public comment process, Nelson’s proposal was chosen in part for its eye-catching design. At night, the piece is lit with a soft LED glow, designed to accentuate the planes and angles of the sculpture.
“The long-awaited installation of John Randall Nelson’s One-Eyed Jack is very exciting,” said Kathy Duley, a member of the Scottsdale Public Art Advisory Board. “Much like the LOVE sculpture on the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, this piece is sure to become an icon on Marshall Way. By attracting visitors and locals alike, it will encourage people to explore the businesses located on the street, raising awareness of this charming area of Old Town Scottsdale.”
Nelson’s design mixes the Southwest appeal of an iconic desert animal with the modern aesthetic of nearby contemporary art galleries. The sculpture references both the desert agrarian roots of the Scottsdale area and the modern hustle and bustle of the arts and shopping district, including the weekly Scottsdale ArtWalk on Thursday nights.
The sculpture is connected to Nelson’s time as a painting student at Arizona State University in the ‘80s and ’90s. During that time, Nelson said he “dutifully” attended many of the opening exhibitions at the galleries in Old Town Scottsdale.
“It was crazy-busy with art openings every Thursday night,” Nelson said. “Artists like James Turrell, Fritz Scholder and Luis Jimenez were the art stars. It was party central back then. We all wanted to have a show there.”
One of Nelson’s first solo shows was at the Bentley Gallery on Marshall Way. He showed his work there from 2002 to 2006. He was represented by Joanne Rapp Gallery, also on Marshall Way, from 1999-2000. Nelson said the sculpture is a reminder of Marshall Way’s history.
Prior to the event, Nelson will be available for a meet and greet from 5 – 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 25, at Gebert Contemporary, 7160 Main Street, Scottsdale.
The dedication celebration for One-Eyed Jack also serves as an opening reception for Scottsdale Public Art’s new Local Light initiative. Light-based installations will be placed along Fifth Avenue, Stetson Drive and Marshall Way in Scottsdale’s Gallery District to create a path of art and light between the businesses and the canal. All of the installations, which will be created by local artists, will remain on display through December 31.
For this inaugural year, Scottsdale Public Art has commissioned local artists to enhance eight different sites in downtown Scottsdale with light-based art installations. Those locations include LDV Winery in its new location near the Waterfront, On The Edge Gallery, Vintage by Misty, The Herb Box, XO Confections, and Carlson Creek Vineyard Wine Tasting Room, in addition to Scottsdale Public Art’s storefront space on 5th Avenue.
Artists participating in Local Light include Mike Butzine, Casey Farina, Lynn Gustafson, Lisa Von Hoffner, Michelle Meyer, Mike Miller, Craig Randich, Lily Reeves, Jenny Willigrod, Danielle Wood and Eli Richard, whose Sun Lanterns will be reinstalled following their removal from Scottsdale Civic Center Mall.
The Sun Lanterns were installed on the pedestrian overpass above Drinkwater Boulevard near Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture in February, but the discovery of structural problems with the overpass has tasked Scottsdale Public Art with finding new locations for the artworks there. The Sun Lanterns have already been removed and are in storage until they are reinstalled as part of Local Light. LOVE will be moved to a new location at Scottsdale Civic Center Mall in the near future.
Jennifer Gill, public art manager for Canal Convergence and Local Light says, “ The initiative is designed to support businesses in Old Town Scottsdale by using the public art installations to lure more potential customers downtown. Some of the installations will be outside the businesses while others will be inside. It also provides local artists more opportunities to be associated with Canal Convergence, which draws from regional, national and international artists.”
In addition to Canal Convergence, Local Light will also play a role in Scottsdale Contemporary Month from October 21 through November 21 and Scottsdazzle from November 24 through January 1.
The Local Light reception and the One-Eyed Jack dedication celebration will both be held at Blue Clover Distillery on Thursday, October 25 from 6 – 7 p.m. Located at 7042 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale, the event will include complimentary green chili chicken nachos, while a special vodka cocktail called One-Eyed Jack will be available for $5. Additional food and drinks will also be available for purchase. Entertainment will include a performance by the acoustic band Notes of Neptune and a poetry reading by Alberto Ríos, a regents’ professor at ASU who became Arizona’s first poet laureate in 2013.
Additionally, Scottsdale Arts staff will lead a tour of the Local Light installations. During the reception, additional tours and events associated with the Local Light initiative will be announced. For more information, visit www.ScottsdalePublicArt.org