As construction is set to begin on the $27.3 million renovation to the Scottsdale Civic Center, many of its iconic sculptures and statues are being removed.
Some are being relocated elsewhere, others will be renovated and some will be mothballed in a safe storage area.
Crews have already begun moving the pieces while some have only a few months left at their current location before they are sent to storage or elsewhere to be restored.
Three pieces will be relocated to new locations off the Civic Center campus: “Mountains and Rainbows” by Jose Bermudez has found a home near a lake at DC Ranch; “Right-Angle Variations” by Gary Slater will stand near a soccer field that is being constructed on Bell Road; and “Allurement of a Journey” by Kenji Umeda will be installed at the Arabian Library on McDowell Mountain Ranch Road.
“We had openings up there and the way they’re reconfiguring the mall meant that there were a few pieces that didn’t fit the vision,” said Wendy Raisanen, curator of collections and exhibitions for Scottsdale Public Art.
“We contacted the artist and the artist’s families for those pieces,” she added, “and they were really excited to know that their works are going to be placed elsewhere.”
With those three pieces on the move, there are seven pieces that will come back to the Civic Center, though two of them will get some much-needed restorations.
Dale Wright’s steel Don Quixote piece will get a touch-up along with George-Ann Tognoni’s statue of horses called “The Yearlings.”
“The legs of the horses have corrosion inside so we’re likely going to have to take a mold of how they look now and remake them,” Raisanen said.
Raisanen also believes the statue will likely have to be cut out of its current location so it can head to the shop.
This will be an easy repair, according to Raisanen, who explained, “With bronze, it’s easy to take something apart and weld it back together.”
When the horses are all fixed up, the piece will find a new home just a few yards east of its current location.
“The Yearlings” will not be the only piece moving slightly around the Civic Center once the renovation project is completed.
Louise Nevelson’s “Windows to the West” will move to close to the Center for the Performing Arts; George-Ann Tognani’s Winfield Scott Memorial will move to a spot near the Scottsdale Historical Museum; Clyde “Ross” Morgan’s statue of former mayor Herb Drinkwater and his dog Sadie will stand close to City Hall and Robert Winslow’s limestone sculpture will be staged in the children’s garden once it is finished.
And Robert Indiana’s popular “Love” sculpture – along with all other pieces being moved around – will head storage for more than a year.
“Unfortunately, the most popular photo-op in Scottsdale is going to be inaccessible for folks until the construction is all done,” Raisanen said.
While moving art around can sound like a daunting task, Raisanen assures fans of these pieces that Scottsdale Public Art has worked closely with an art moving company to ensure that they are moved gently during times of the day when the heat will not endanger the movers.
“These pieces are moved very specifically and carefully,” Raisanen said. “With all art moving, you don’t begin to move artwork until you know where you’re going to place it.”
The work will all be removed sporadically as different phases of construction take place.
“Ultimately, what felt best was coming up with a master plan so that as we put it all together, everything was slow,” city spokesperson Erin Walsh said.
Although many of the pieces will be gone from the Civic Center between this October to around January 2023, some will remain unaffected by the renovation process.
Those pieces are: “The Fountain of Youth” by Ivan Pintar, “Mother and Child” by John Waddell, “Woman and Fish” by Abbott Pattinson and “The Chaplain” by Austin Deuel.
All artwork inside City Hall, Civic Center Library, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art will also remain in place.
Businesses in the area will also remain open during construction.
“Businesses are going to remain open and we’re going to maintain pedestrian access throughout construction so that people can reach everything they need to reach,” Walsh said.
Despite the fact that the Civic Center will become a construction site for over a year, there is a lot of excitement about the grand vision that is scheduled to be unveiled in January 2023.
“I remember when they built this mall and it’s kind of looked the same since the 70’s,” Raisanen said. “I think it’s nice to bring the mall into the 21st century and once it’s done, more people will be able to enjoy the park and it’ll feel a lot more open.”