Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light returns Nov. 6–15 with noticeable changes, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while still bringing the enchanting, light-based artworks from around the world that fans of the event have come to expect.
“This is a year where we have all been impacted by COVID-19’s devastating effects on our way of life,” says Kim Boganey, director of Scottsdale Public Art. “Canal Convergence is no exception to these changes and will pivot in order to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including our visitors.”
Scottsdale Public Art, which launched Canal Convergence in 2012, will expand the event this year from beyond the Arizona Canal at the Scottsdale Waterfront. In addition to some artworks at the waterfront, others will be located throughout Old Town Scottsdale to minimize crowding and allow for safer social distancing. Some of the artworks will even be found in locations where they are easily visible from automobiles or bicycles.
Additionally, Scottsdale Public Art and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation will use augmented reality technology to enhance the Canal Convergence experience with an app for your smartphone. Activities associated with previous events—including workshops, artist talks and public art tours—will not have a physical presence at the canal this year, but they will instead have virtual counterparts accessible via augmented reality or online from the comfort of your home.
The central theme of this year’s event is “Reconnect,” a timely focus considering how the world has been forced to find alternate forms of connecting since the pandemic began. With the event kicking off only days after the U.S. presidential election, and following months of heightened tensions due to the pandemic, Canal Convergence aims to find common ground and shared humanity through public art, addressing themes of inclusion, communication, collaboration and community engagement.
The selected local, national and international artists pushed the boundaries of their creativity to produce artworks that offer the public a way to reconnect with themselves, their neighbors, urban and natural environments, and more, all while producing artworks that can safely be enjoyed while social distancing.
“This year has challenged us, as artists, to think differently, to create work that is durable and safe even in a pandemic,” says Ryan Edwards of Boston-based MASARY Studios, which will install the audio/visual artwork “Massively Distributed” at Canal Convergence. “But as public artists, we are already in that space, for the most part. I think this pandemic is emphasizing how important public art really is, and the artists and presenters who embrace that are really thriving.”
MASARY Studios is one of the multiple Canal Convergence alumni at this year’s event. In 2018, MASARY Studios brought “Sound Sculpture” to the Marshall Way Bridge. Also returning this year are the Valley’s own Walter Productions (2018 and 2019) and artist Casey Farina (local light artist in 2018 and 2019), as well Budapest-based studio Koros Design (2018).
Artists at this year’s event come from four U.S. states and three foreign countries. Because of COVID-19 precautions, none of the artworks will involve touching as some have in years past. But all are built on Canal Convergence’s foundation of light-based art.
“Each of the Canal Convergence artworks provide unique and meaningful ways to reconnect with friends, neighbors and the city of Scottsdale through art,” says Jennifer Gill, public art manager for Canal Convergence. “Even though the look and feel of this year’s event has had to change due to pandemic restrictions, we are proud to say that the tradition of exceptional light-based public artworks remains the same.”
Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light
Old Town Scottsdale
For more information, visit canalconvergence.com.