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

the single-lens reflex

We experience the world through our five senses—taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight.

This sculpture asks us to examine what happens when we limit our perception to only one sensory lens—the visual. This is essentially what cameras do when they record patterns of light with a mechanical or digital ‘eye.’

When we interpret and accept the camera’s images as reality, do we sometimes trust these superficial surrogates more than direct experience?

As we find ourselves mindlessly caught up in converting our days into a stream of mediated images, do we lose track of the main event: to be fully alive?

“the single-lens reflex” installed August 26, 2016 at Pima Community College East, part of the Sculpture on Campus juried exhibition (“ultimate reality show” on far left)   copyright 2016 Joan Waters, all rights reserved.

The public is invited to the opening reception on October 20, 2-4 pm. As we walk around the campus we will visit each sculpture, and each artist will give a brief introduction to their work. PCC East is located at 8181 E. Irvington Rd, Tucson, AZ 85709-4000.

Special thanks to Mike Stack, Department Chair, Arts & Humanities, for the energy and vision behind the Sculpture on Campus exhibition which began in 2005. Thanks to Mike, the campus community is actively engaged in selecting, viewing, writing about and appreciating the wide range of sculptures that are installed on concrete pads located around the campus. Many classes use the sculptures as departure points for their learning and discussions. It’s a great example of building a community that appreciates and is enriched by art. I know I’ve had the idea for my latest piece for several years, and this opportunity gave me the impetus to finally build the work.

install_Mike Stack_082616
Mike Stack, Department Chair, in a photographic duel with the sculpture.  “The Mothers: Las Madres” Project by Valarie James with Antonia Gallegos, Deborah McCullough & Cesar Lopez in the background

New projects

Comm_FireDance_installFireDance No. 3, welded steel with patinas, heat coloring, enamel and clear powder coating
37 x 48 x 8 in., private residence, ©Joan Waters 2016

Comm_OnTheReef_finalOn the Reef, welded steel with patinas and clear powder coating, private commission, ©Joan Waters 2016

Comm_DesertSeasons_room smComm_DesertSeasons_smDesert Seasons, welded steel with patinas and clear powder coating, 44 x 96 x 4 in., corporate law office, ©Joan Waters 2016

Open Studio Sneak Peek/Wed.

Steel Tapestries
Steel Tapestries ©Joan Waters 2012

Sneak Peek of new work to be shown at Saturday, Feb. 11th Open Studio~Strips of hammered, welded steel are layered onto oxidized panels, to be hung singly or in groups. The blue colors are created by the heat of the welding process. Since I’m using my “Steel Tapestry” theme as inspiration for a guest artist project with Seton Catholic High School students, I felt inspired to revisit this theme from a series of 2006 sculptures. To me, the most recent sculptures seem to embody more color and spontaneity from the welding and fabrication process.