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.

“wayfinding” Solo Show at Olney Gallery Feb 2018

Please join us—First Friday Artists Reception Feb. 2nd 6–9 pm
Exhibition dates: Jan 26–Feb 22.   Gallery is open: Mon–Fri 9 am–4 pm

“Steel Branches: Yin/Yang” and “Syncopation” ©Joan Waters 2018 all rights reserved

Olney Gallery installation view ©Joan Waters 2018 all rights reserved

“Tree” ©Joan Waters 2018 all rights reserved

Olney Gallery installation view ©Joan Waters 2018 all rights reserved
New acrylic paintings and steel sculptures embrace the unknown as an essential part of their process. To move beyond the limitations of words and what we ‘think we know’ asks us to rely on direct observation and experience. John Keats called this “negative capability— to be capable of “being in uncertainties, mysteries, and doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”

Returning to her roots in painting and drawing, Waters’ Portal series of paintings are inspired by the mysterious patterns of tar lines used to patch cracks in the road. Finding similar patterns in glazed ceramics, aerial city maps, leaf veins and coiled garden hose fuels her curiosity about the universality of these patterns. Colored glazes are layered over calligraphic brush strokes to build depth and movement. Steel sculptures echo the calligraphic mark making in cutout steel shapes and hammered rod with patinas.

“Working across different mediums allows me freedom to break the ‘rules’ and cross-pollinate ideas. Seeing change as evidence of aliveness, I seek to create a visual language out of what is unfamiliar, and use imagination to convey a sense of exuberance and vitality which challenges viewers to reconnect with their own sources of positive energy and magic in the world.”
“Not all those who wander are lost.” J. R. R. Tolkein

Primero Ovo

JoanWaters_PrimeroOvo_8x6_300use© Joan Waters 2016, all rights reserved
This embellished egg was part of the Arc Degree 360 project sponsored by the David Wright House to benefit Artlink Phoenix. The ‪#‎ArcDegree360‬ eggs will be part of an art show and silent auction at the Artlink Phoenix Art d’Core Gala in Hance Park on March 10, 2016.(The list of names of the participating artists hasn’t been released yet.)

The mythical Phoenix is unique among birds. Born not from an egg, it instead rises from the ashes of fire and destruction to come into this world. Fiery, colorful and creative, this image of new life springing forth against the odds of the harsh desert environment has fueled the collective imagination of our young city that bears the same name.

As the community matures and grows deeper roots to sustain future growth, however, it undergoes a huge transformation. The firebird can no longer sustain itself on fire, rage and destruction, and it experiences a seismic shift of consciousness in order to survive and flourish.

Primero Ovo (First Egg) represents this massive transfiguration for the Phoenix. This will be the first time the Phoenix uses the egg as the vehicle to regenerate.

The nest, which supports and protects the egg, is patiently constructed of smaller twigs and branches. These are the elements—the cultural traditions, social institutions and community groups—which create the vision and support the future growth of our magnificent Phoenix.