Canal Convergence Scottsdale

This year’s Canal Convergence will feature 14 large-scale, interactive artworks including “HeartHug” by Izobrulo Polylight. “HeartHug” utilizes artificial intelligence to sense hugs.

The team behind Canal Convergence – the annual, free, 10-day event at the Scottsdale Waterfront in southern Scottsdale – is aiming for a more sustainable waste-free event.

Last year, Scottsdale Public Art, in partnership with Scottsdale Solid Waste and local businesses, diverted 88 percent of non-hazardous waste materials through recycling and composting efforts.

This year, they’re hoping to achieve a 95 percent zero-waste event.

“We really shifted gears with the Solid Waste department from the city of Scottsdale to require a lot more of our food vendors to convert all of their materials to compostable materials,” said Gina Azima, Scottsdale Public Art Operations Manager. 

“All food vendors are required to only have compostable items,” Azima emphasized, adding that this is the first year Canal Convergence set this requirement in place.

Surrounding business will also work with Solid Waste to get any food waste collected and contributed to Scottsdale Arts’ composting efforts. 

New to Canal Convergence is the Choose Tap! water trailer used at the Scottsdale Arts Festival in March – an appropriate move considering this year’s theme is “The Story of Water.”

At the water trailer, Canal Convergence attendees can refill their respective water bottles versus purchasing new bottles.

Scottsdale reported the trailer dispersed 3,018 gallons of water at the Scottsdale Arts Festival this year. That’s the equivalent of more than 19,300 one-time-use bottles.

“It’s on loan for us for the full 10 days,” Azima said. “We’re trying to drive down our water bottle sales and encourage people to bring their own water bottle and refill at that station.”

Solid Waste department launches a new pilot program at this year’s Canal Convergence, as well.

Fox Restaurant Concepts’ Olive & Ivy is the only restaurant taking part in the pilot program.

Solid Waste will analyze its waste stream during the event and following Canal Convergence, give those results to Olive & Ivy to help them shift their business practices.

“I went to Solid Waste about nine months ago, post-event, and I had this idea that I thought it would be really great if we could get all of the businesses within a one-mile radius of the Waterfront – it was a bit lofty – to convert their materials, but also help us achieve that 95 percent,” Azima recalled. 

Solid Waste started with one business instead. 

“They actually reached out to Olive & Ivy as the pilot business within that area to see what they can do to convert their materials, look at how they do day-to-day practices, collect food waste to put it towards composting efforts, recycle glass, things like that,” Azima said.

According to Azima, the long-term goal is to get all businesses converted.

“The trajectory of that pilot is that we can actually convert what they’re doing and then actually get the commercial businesses involved in what they’ve created. That’s what Solid Waste is looking to do,” she said.

Canal Convergence will feature creative programming and entertainment for people of all ages.

The 14 large-scale, interactive artworks found throughout Canal Convergence include the fire-spurting “Water Serpent” by Scottsdale-based artist group Walter Productions, “Standing Wave” by UK-based artist studio Squidsoup, “Light Orchestra” by ATOMIC3, Ottomata, and Jean-Sebastien Côté, and “HeartHug” by Russia-based Izobrulo Polylight, among others.

“The artists selected will present artworks that engage, encourage interaction, intrigue, and educate viewers about water, public art, and light,” said Kim Boganey, Scottsdale Public Art director.

Also referencing the theme of “The Story of Water” at the event are creative workshops and activities, including hands-on art projects and free artist talks, and educational tours hosted by Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation.

More specifically, the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy’s workshop will teach about the Sonoran Desert watershed as participants create their own 3-D watercolor art and magnets.

As part of Paris-based artist Antonin Fourneau’s workshop, Fourneau will teach participants how to make stamps they can use on his large-scale “Waterlight Graffiti” installation.  Scottsdale Water will teach attendees about artistic container gardening and water conservation in two workshops.

Other workshops include a coloring workshop led by artists The Continuum, a microscopic organisms workshop led by Colorado-based artist Nicole A. Banowetz, two craft workshops led by Scottsdale Artists’ School, and a gyotaku workshop led by Tempe-based artist Amanda McGlothern.

Arcosanti and the Cosanti Foundation, Eli Richard, Toy Studio, Eric Buchner, and Paradise Valley School District will also lead workshops. 

“Attendees of Canal Convergence will be treated to a number of unique and exciting workshops delivered by local, national, and international artists,” said Natalie Marsh, Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation director. “From printmaking to technology, these workshops not only engage visitors in the themes of the event but also involve them in the artistic practice used by the artists.”

Additionally, Local Light will return for its second year to Canal Convergence.

Local Light places temporary, light-based public art installations created by local artists in or around businesses in Old Town Scottsdale – along Marshall Way, 5th Avenue and Stetson Avenue, as well as inside Scottsdale Fashion Square.

Tempe-based Eli Richard’s “Sun Lanterns” will also return to Local Light at  3rd Avenue and Marshall Way.

Also new to Canal Convergence is Light Up the Night, a closing celebration held in the event’s VIP Lounge on Nov. 16 at 6 p.m.

Light Up the Night, which offers attendees the opportunity to mix and mingle with artists, indulge in food and drink, and experience exclusive, one-night-only installations, is intended to raise money for next year’s Canal Convergence.

Tickets are $50 each and includes valet parking and a cocktail and champagne toast with Scottsdale Arts President and CEO Dr. Gerd Wuetemann.

Canal Convergence is the winner of the 2019 Gold Grand Pinnacle Award from the International Festival & Events Association. The Pinnacle Awards recognize the best festivals and events around the world.

“For Canal Convergence to win the highest award given by the IFEA – the Gold Grand Pinnacle Award – is extraordinary, knowing the high caliber of competition internationally,” said Karen Churchard, director of Tourism & Events for the city of Scottsdale. 

Canal Convergence runs Nov. 8-17. Information: