Explore Phoenix-Scottsdale

See for Free: 8 Awesome Sculptures Around Arizona

In the Valley of the Sun, you can see a museum-quality Louise Bourgeois, Louise Nevelson or James Turrell without museum admission and beyond museum hours. There are other monumental freebies in store, too.

In the Valley of the Sun, you can see a museum-quality Louise Bourgeois, Louise Nevelson or James Turrell without museum admission and beyond museum hours. There are other monumental freebies in store, too. Here are some of them.

In Phoenix, see...

a sculpture of hoops and netting that’s most often compared to a jellyfish for the way it appears to float and drift above Civic Space Park in glowing hues of blue and violet. Artist Janet Echelman quoted 19th-century poet Ralph Waldo Emerson in naming this 2009 installation “Her Secret is Patience.” Exact location: between Fillmore and Van Buren streets and First and Central avenues

a 90-foot vanity mirror inside the Phoenix Convention Center, tilted “just so” for the amusement of escalator riders and trade show travelers. French-born American artist Louise Bourgeois created the piece, including a readable reflection of the words of her motto, “Art is a Guaranty of Sanity,” in 2006—nine years after receiving the esteemed National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton. Exact location: street-level lobby of west building, Second and Monroe streets

In Scottsdale, see...

a “wall” of interconnected boxes in front of a shallow pool on Scottsdale Civic Center Mall. This weathered Cor-Ten steel—in other words, rusty—monument has been in place since 1972 and is easy to overlook as an aging relic, but closer examination reveals puzzle-like construction. “Windows to the West” was one of Russian-born, New York-based sculptor Louise Nevelson’s earliest works built for the outdoors; in the 1940s through the 1960s, she was better known for assemblages of wood and found objects that she painted all-white or all-black. Exact location: west side of 75th Street, south of Indian School Road

“Windows to the West” by Louise Nevelson
“Windows to the West” in 1972. (©Dru Bloomfield/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Five vaguely cubist horses poised to gallop across Indian Bend Road—or just project mouthfuls of water upon the sidewalk when rain falls fast and furiously. The silver steeds of “Water Mark” are Laura Haddad’s and Tom Drugan’s artistic additions to a designated flood basin: feasts for the eye when all is dry, and trick-performing show ponies when floodwaters rage. Exact location: north side of Indian Bend Road between Scottsdale and Hayden roads

Indian Bend Wash horses sculpture that you can see in Arizona for free
Indian Bend Wash "Water Mark" (©Dru Bloomfield/Flickr, Creative Commons)

a horse constructed entirely of 1.5-inch, square-shaped steel tubing, standing 23 feet tall and made even more grand by commanding a four-foot platform. Scottsdale equestrian facility WestWorld commissioned “Impulsion” of local artist Jeff Zischke, who—no one-trick pony—is also known around town for temporary light “constellations” in a Scottsdale canal, permanent and way-oversized seed pods scattered throughout Cavalliere Park, and arching outdoor lamps installed on the pool deck at the W Scottsdale hotel. Exact location: along WestWorld’s main interior road near east end of facility

“Impulsion” by Jeff Zischke
Jeff Zischke’s “Impulsion” is so big—and so high—that it’s hard to fit in one picture frame. (©LKP)

In Mesa, see...

a trio of buxom, larger-than-life women drooping on a bench. “They Are Waiting” by Nnamdi Okonkwo, a Nigerian-born artist who lives in the United States, might convey patience or exhaustion. Either is appropriate for the context: The grouping is located along a stretch of Main Street that until recently was messy with light rail construction, testing area businesses’ serenity. And pedestrians who want to peruse all of the city’s permanent, public collection of sculptures run the risk of weariness themselves; at last count, 38 pieces were installed throughout an eight-square-block span. Exact location: north side of Main Street between Morris and Robson streets

“They Are Waiting” by Nnamdi Okonkwo
Nnamdi Okonkwo’s ladies in waiting were installed in downtown Mesa long before light rail construction tried tenants’ patience and light rail service begat antsy commuters. (©LKP)

In Tempe, see...

a sky-viewing atrium that looks futuristic from the outside but functions simply from the inside, surrounded by a mathematically mapped garden. “Air Apparent,” one of Flagstaff-based installation artist James Turrell’s so-called “skyspaces,” beckons visitors to enter, kick back, and simply admire a framed piece of the heavens, while Austin landscape architect Christy Ten Eyck’s garden imposes order on the organic world. The pair of art-of-nature creations form, fittingly, a gateway to Arizona State University’s Interdisciplinary Science & Technology headquarters. Exact location: west side of Rural Road, north of Terrace Way

“Air Apparent” by James Turrell
“Knight Rise,” which is attached to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and “Air Apparent” (above) on Tempe’s ASU campus. (©LKP)

a soaring, 35-foot-tall depiction of a beloved city councilman, 1970-78, and mayor, 1978-1994, as a stilt walker. Creator John R. Nelson intended the exaggerated dimensions of “Above the Crowd” to represent Harry Mitchell’s “heightened sense of potential, performance and accomplishment.” Coincidentally, live stilt walkers regularly stroll the city’s Mill Avenue during spring and fall Tempe Festival of the Arts. Exact location: east side of Mill Avenue, south of Harkins Valley Art

“Above the Crowd” by John R. Nelson
“Above the Crowd” doesn’t flatter with height alone; the base of the monument is embedded with mosaic shards of transferred news clippings. (©LKP)