Center City Award sculptures for Phoenix Community Alliance

The new sculptures designed and created for the Phoenix Community Alliance Center City Awards 2020 ©Joan Waters

Since 1993, Phoenix Community Alliance has honored men and women from the public, private, and non-profit sectors who have made outstanding contributions to advance the quality of life and further the renaissance of Central Phoenix.

Earlier in the year, Artlink announced a Call for Artists to reimagine and design the Center City Awards. From the designs submitted by three finalists (Elijah Bourke and Bobbie Zokaites), my proposal was chosen to be created and presented to this year’s honorees. The sculptures are welded steel with patinas, 20 x 6 x 6 inches.

The Center City Award sculpture takes its inspiration from the Palo Verde tree, a Sonoran desert native. Its bright green bark which allows photosynthesis is echoed in the vibrant green patinas on steel. Though we may think of a tree’s canopy as its predominant feature, the vast network of roots underground are what support the tree’s health and growth.
The award sculpture celebrates the energy, time and commitment to networking and developing the root connections to create and sustain our vibrant city.
The three sides of the sculpture’s base represent PCA’s core — activate — advocate — build.
The central green leaf is hand plasma-cut with branching lines that suggest the veins of leaves, the roots of the tree, and the sophisticated Hohokam canal system upon which our city is built.
The window is vision for the future and a better life.
The purple-hued leaf suggests the process of building. Its undulating edge traces the challenges of that process, acknowledging the ebb and flow of progress and pauses, and the patience to work with that process. The welded spiral petroglyph building block acknowledges the desert people and knowledge who have come before us.
On the back of the sculpture, leaf shapes are cut out of the panel to create a shadow screen. Intense heat from the torch makes rich ambers, violets and blues ‘bloom’ in the steel.
Within the base is an interactive element. Like a rain stick, it makes a soft sound when shaken. This celebrates rain, so important for life in the desert. The honorees are the rainmakers for our community.

It was an honor to be selected to design and create the new Center City Award sculpture. My hope is that the artistry and symbolism will make receiving the award even more meaningful and special, and will convey deep appreciation from our entire community.

The two awards —Center City Newcomer and Center City Champion— will be presented Thursday, December 17th at the PCA Annual Member Meeting, 11:30 am – 1:00pm.