PHX Sky Train Public Art Project Is Ambitious but Underwhelming
The city of Phoenix threw down some serious cash for the PHX Sky Train. But that money wasn't spent on train tech and architecture alone. You might not know it at first glance, but there was a fat budget for the public art projects scattered across the different stations and walkways.
Katrina Montgomery Tailplane Patterns by Fausto Fernandez
Generally speaking, we're on board with any program that provides funding to local artists to do their thang. But we wanted to get the full scoop and see whether it's worth taking a special trip to check out this truly massive public art project at Sky Harbor.
Four of the six projects are terrazzo floor designs by artists Anne Coe, Daniel Martin Diaz, Fausto Fernandez, and Daniel Mayer. The vibrant use of color looks pretty cool, and the organic designs provide nice contrast to the architecture of the stations.
Katrina Montgomery Journey Through Nature by Daniel Martin Diaz
But let's be real. It's a floor.
"I sort of joke about bringing in cleaning rags to get rid of the scuff marks, but frankly the floor is what it is. And there are lots of people rushing across it dragging suitcases on their way to some adventure," artist Anne Coe says. "It is a pleasure to see my work used and enjoyed."
The artists' intentions do add some level of interest to the work. Coe, for instance, was inspired by hiking and topographical maps. Her project focused on "the view of Phoenix and the canal systems when the water was used for crops and not subdivisions." She says point of view was especially important working in such a huge scale.
Katrina Montgomery Topo Magic by Anne Coe
We can tell the artists all put genuine thought into their projects. And the work that was done by both artists and engineers to install the pieces is incredibly impressive. (Advance Terrazzo, the Phoenix firm in charge of the install, even won a national award).
But when we saw the work in person, we just felt pretty meh.