That 6-foot thing on South San Marcos Place might look like a giant pacifier, but no need for alarm.
There’s no giant, proportional baby toppling Chandler’s historic district in search of it. It’s called “NUK,” and it’s a sculpture … of a pacifier.
If giant metal binkies are not your thing, you might prefer the stand of metal cactuses nearby, or the levitating plastic bag dress in the Boston Street breezeway, or the alien antennae you’ll find on El Zócalo’s patio.
Art is busting out all over the south East Valley. If it seems a little “had to be there,” well, that’s precisely the point of the Chandler Sculpture Walk.
OFF OF THE PEDESTAL …
Modern sculptures have gotten tired of waiting for you to come visit them in dusty museums and buttoned-up galleries. So they’re taking to the streets, shops and shaded colonnades of San Marcos Square. The Chandler Sculpture Walk, opening Saturday, weaves nationally acclaimed artists and their creations through the fabric of the city’s historic downtown.
“We’ll have 69 pieces in all,” Diane Howell explains. “It’s a very eclectic mix of art.” Curator of the Chandler Sculpture Walk — the landmark studio that sits just behind the pacifier — Howell says the roster makes this walk more diverse than your standard statue starefest. From the reverent stone Igor Zorkin statue of A.J. Chandler, to the howling deconstructed wolf outside of Brunchies, Chandler’s sculpture walk defies easy categories and tradition itself.
“There’s a wonderful in-and-out to our show,” Howell says. “About half of our pieces are indoors, so the walk goes through businesses, galleries and public spaces all along the downtown.” All 69 pieces can be seen, for free, along a mile-and-a-half route.
Some, like Rosalind Cook’s “Someday,” are sidewalk stand-alones, demanding attention from street corners. Others, like Anthony Notsoulas’ “Bubble Vision,” are smaller, quirkier treasures, awaiting discovery on store counters and shop alcoves. The indoor component throws the Walk’s repertoire open to more delicate creations, like Rebecca Kamen’s tiny wire sculptures, “Effervesce” and “Journey.”
“We’re using pieces from (the Chandler museum’s) permanent collection, as well as pieces we secured from all over the country,” says Chandler visual arts coordinator Eric Faulhaber. “We wanted works that would complement each other, and yet be drastically different.”
… AND INTO THE STREETS
The walk will also include the work of prominent sculptors who call the East Valley home. “This area has a number of local artists, like Jose Benavides, Jeff Zischke and Mary Bates Neubauer, who work regionally, nationally and all over the world,” Faulhaber says.
The pieces, on display through the end of the year, will extend from the south lawn of the Chandler Center for the Arts, through the downtown colonnades and civic buildings, as far south as Boston Street. “They’re numbered, but you don’t have to see them sequentially to enjoy it,” Howell says.
Creative placement — from the front of the police station to the interior of a day spa — can make the sculpture walk a kind of highbrow scavenger hunt. “But I think it’s easy to find them all,” Howell says. “Every exhibit will have brochures with maps. We don’t have to leave bread crumbs.”
The walk itself is actually sort of a bread crumb. The cooperative brainchild of the city, the Chandler Arts Commission, the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership and local merchants, it’s intended to help long-absent pedestrians rediscover the city’s renovated downtown.
“It’s a completely different retail scene down here,” Howell says. “Some of the stores have only been here a couple of years. Some are just a few months old. A lot of those businesses have welcomed the sculptures into their space.”
But the hidden jewel of the sculpture walk, they say, is the city’s revitalized downtown. “We want to draw attention to the art,” she says, “and to downtown Chandler as an arts destination.”