Make a Day of "Bubble Fountain," "Seriously Funny" and "Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef" in Scottsdale

Categories: Show Reviews

I've got to hand it to Scottsdale Public Art. Recently, they've been cleverly using every square inch of uninhabited space in Scottsdale for temporary public art installations created by local Valley creatives. That includes a series of installations SPA has labeled "Bell'e Art" mounted in the monastically quiet passageway slicing through the Scottsdale Mall Bell Tower, right next to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. "Bell'e Art" (get it?) is jointly underwritten by Scottsdale Public Art with the generous support of Clarence and Lona Furuya.

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Kathleen Vanesian
"Bubble Fountain" in action

Would I travel clear across town solely to experience the "Bubble Fountain," the current Bell Tower installation devised by artists Melissa McGurgan and Marco Rosichelli and billed as "a collaborative interactive multisensory" experience? Not unless I was five years old or under and could nag my mom into schlepping me from one end of the Valley to the other.

Basically, McGurgan and Rosichelli have set up bubble machines in each of four corners of the passageway, which spew soapy iridescent orbs from on high when they sense movement. This could have been a really engaging installation, but for the lack of the surprise element inherent in having to publicize the Bubble Fountain -- not to mention the vaguely off-putting fragrance of the bubbles, which falls somewhere between minty fresh mouthwash and baby spit-up.

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Kathleen Vanesian
Art lover Richard Vanesian gets in touch with his inner bubble
In the same vein, the distinctly inelegant, bubble-related memory the installation dredged up for me was one of sitting in a seventh grade classroom trying to produce "surfer bubbles" (aka spit bubbles) while Sister Mary Celestine turned her back on us to write on the board. Before you embark on any pilgrimage to the Bubble Fountain, make sure you check the times the bubbles are activated by going to the installation's blogspot, where you'll also see a very lovely videotaped dance performance done by spritely Bubble Girls as bubbles rain down gently upon them.

Along with trekking to the Bubble Fountain, I suggest you make a day out of various other attractions in the immediate vicinity. Take in SMOCA's "Seriously Funny" exhibition, which runs until May 24.

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Kathleen Vanesian
"Naked Artist Inside" by Alejandro Diaz
I had completely forgotten about the show until I spotted a huge rolling marquee pointing to the museum entrance that sleazily announces "Naked Artist Inside," courtesy of artist Alejandro Diaz. For online audio clips of the show's artists discussing their particular pieces, go to SMOCA's audio archive website. Then walk across to the Scottsdale Performing Art Center's gift shop, which is always chock full of great books, music, jewelry and arts-related accessories. That's where I spotted a book entitled Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them, by Annie Modesitt and Drew Emborsky, which triggered an instant apercu about the fact that "Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef" is still at the Gallery @ The Library at Scottsdale Civic Center Library, just across the street from SMOCA.
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Kathleen Vanesian
Detail from "Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef"

The spectacularly colorful, 2,500 foot-long crocheted coral reef spilling through the library's gallery, which was the handiwork of over 200 local collaborators, is the crazed, but inspired, idea of Australian-born twin sisters, Margaret and Christine Wertheim, who are not only artists, but also scientific and mathematical geniuses hooked on the craft and cultural implications of traditional crochet arts. Margaret is a well-known science writer who's appeared frequently in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times and produced a prodigious number of books on the cultural history of physics, while Christine is a former painter with a PhD in literature and semiotics from Middlesex University in the UK and currently teaches critical theory and feminism in the undergraduate Critical Studies program at California Institute for the Arts. Together they founded The Institute For Figuring, which organizes exhibitions promoting the public understanding of the poetic and artful facets of science and mathematics. For a tiny taste of what you'll see, take a peek at my slide show of some of the exhibition's work.

Then, after taking all of this in, treat yourself to a nice martini at AZ88, which is within lurching distance of all of these



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