Scottsdale Public Art

Australian artist James Tapscott will be showcasing his art for the first time in the U.S. at Canal Convergence when he displays his work "Arc Zero - Oculus" at the Soleri Bridge.

After last year’s attractions were scaled down or moved online, this year’s Canal Convergence will reconvene at the Scottsdale Waterfront for 10 days of live music, art, workshops and celebration beginning Friday, Nov. 5. 

Despite the COVID-made abnormal event last year, some activities were so successful that they will carry over to this year’s in-person celebration. 

“Last year gave us the opportunity to test our augmented reality and the opportunity to partner with local businesses,” explained Kim Boganey, director of Scottsdale Public Art.

One of last year’s successes was the implementation of augmented reality (AR), which allows for people to use their mobile devices to scan a QR code and view a feature that is not physically present. 

This year the software is being used as part of five experiences, including some created by Scottsdale Arts Learning and Innovation. 

“When the Public Art team thought that augmented reality might be an interesting way of engaging the public, I jumped on it,” said Natalie Marsh, director of Scottsdale Arts Learning and Innovation. “What was really exciting to me was getting that opportunity to live in that world of discomfort where I’m encouraging them to try something different.” 

One of the most exciting AR experiences involves a scavenger hunt where patrons will help an artist who lost the pages of her sketchbook track them down virtually along the canal. 

As patrons make their way down the canal, they will scan a QR code that triggers an animation with clues on the scavenger hunt. The animations were developed by students at Saguaro High School. 

Those who solve the scavenger hunt will be treated to a special AR experience that cannot be seen anywhere else. 

The AR scavenger hunt is just one of the interactive ways people can experience art at this year’s Canal Convergence. 

This will be the first year with a designated and sponsored area for learning and innovation. The Nationwide Innovation Zone will feature more than 30 different workshops for kids, teens and adults. 

“What we wanted to try this year was to have more in-depth time with artists,” said Marsh. “You’ll see more workshops and less drop-in activities because we really loved that in-depth experience that people got with artists.” 

Some of the headlining workshops are ones where guests can use software to manipulate algorithms, create artwork even with sound, contribute to groundbreaking research in drone design and explore various art-making software. 

This year also will build on last year’s initiative to collaborate with local businesses. 

Last year’s festivities featured half a dozen local businesses supporting Canal Convergence. This year, well over a dozen are offering discounts during the Convergence.

These businesses are: Arcadia Farms, Brunch & Sip, Eco Tours AZ, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, Jewel of the Crown, JOJO Coffeehouse, Joyrides AZ, Juice Core Organic, Jules & JC, Kelly’s at Southbridge, La Senora at Saguaro, Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles, Monroe’s Hot Chicken, Nonna Urban Eatery, Nori Sushi & Asian Dining, Oh My Dog! Boutique Hotel and Spa, Sizzle Korean BBQ, Super Chunk Sweets & Treats and Yellow Spruce Roasters. 

In addition, Canal Convergence will also host food trucks during weekends.

One of the largest attractions this year likely will be the CODAsummit Nov. 10-12.

It is billed as a “conference focused on the exciting ways creative professionals are incorporating technology to create artwork installations that are changing the ways we experience our environments,” according to the event website. 

The summit is expected to draw hundreds of artists from around the world to Scottsdale, including Australian artist James Tapscott, who will be displaying art in the United States for the first-time during Canal Convergence. 

“The CODAsummit worked as well as I am presenting an artist showcase at the same time,” Tapscott said. “It became a good time to do two things at once.” 

Tapscott had known about Canal Convergence for years prior to this year’s event and had plans to bring one of his signature pieces over last year but was confined to his home in Australia when a pandemic lockdown was declared. 

When this year’s festival was greenlit to return to the waterfront, Tapscott decided it was time to make his debut in America. 

Despite being ready to show his work to American audiences, Tapscott admitted there has been one challenge to planning for an event that is nearly halfway across the globe: He was unable to visit the site before the festival and had to allude to images on Google maps and site plans to view the canal. 

Despite the challenges, Tapscott is eager to bring his work “Arc ZERO – Oculus,” which will be displayed on the Soleri Bridge. 

The piece is the 10th installment in a series of works Tapscott began creating over a decade ago and is a circular ring that emits a mist and light that flows from side to side.

The piece was originally designed and installed on a bridgeway to a Buddhist temple in Japan in 2017 and the site of Canal Convergence reminds Tapscott of the work’s original display site. 

“I think the ability to work with water, which is one of my mediums these days, and the opportunity to use the Soleri bridge made it seem like a really good idea,” he said. “I think, considering the resources that we have, it’s going to come together really well.” 

Tapscott believes the location will allow patrons to experience his intention for the work. 

“The idea is to have people cross over into another realm,” he said. “I tried to enhance that spiritual experience.” 

Even with the unique placement and experience of the work, Tapscott feels his piece will complement the ambiance of Canal Convergence. 

“I think it will be interesting because it is a kinetic and interactive work but in a much different way than anyone else’s work,” Tapscott said. 

Tapscott will not be the only newcomer to Canal Convergence as musical acts like Blackbird and Steel Dads will provide music for the event for the first time. 

“When I was reached out to about Canal Convergence and talked about how it is about bringing the art and culture together, it was a no-brainer,” said Cody Blackbird, who plays the flute for the band. 

“Especially with the event falling during ‘American Indian Heritage Month’ and us being a native band, the fact that we will be able to showcase music during that month and at an event that is centered around art and bringing people together is a great thing.” 

Blackbird plays a unique fusion of music that incorporates rock music with native flute and lyricism that relates to things that occur on Native American reservations. The band dubs it “alter-native” music. 

A unique part of Blackbird’s sound is how Cody Blackbird runs his wooden flute, which is almost shaped like a recorder, through a series of pedals like guitar players do. 

Blackbird plans to play a setlist of original songs as well as covers, all with the same goal in mind. 

“Our hope is through our music and the words we share is that people take away a greater understanding of indigenous music and indigenous peoples,” said Blackbird, “We also want to give people a nice slice of entertainment and something they won’t hear anywhere else.” 

Another musical group that will add to the diverse sounds of Canal Convergence is a steel drum band called “Steel Dads.” 

For a band whose goal is to bring the sounds of the Caribbean to the waterfront, leader Keith Johnson was sold on the opportunity to play in front of a diverse crowd that sold Johnson. 

“One of the things that I love is when things are all-inclusive and everyone can enjoy the beautiful music,” he said. 

He is looking forward to enlightening patrons with the vibrant sounds that steel drums and djembe drums offer. 

“The wonderful thing about steel drums is that you can play a variety of music that people will be able to recognize,” Johnson said. “You can’t play sad music on steel drums, it’s just so happy of an instrument.” 

Steel Dads plan to play a setlist of cover songs, including “The Little Mermaid,” “Mission Impossible,” classical music and Johnson’s favorite song “I Can See Clearly Now.”

 “Even if you’re in a sad mood, when you hear “I Can See Clearly Now,” it makes you feel like the clouds are gone and you’re looking for a rainbow,” Johnson SAID. 

Beyond being able to spread joy by playing his favorite songs and instruments, Johnson sees Canal Convergence as something bigger than music and art. 

“This is an opportunity for people to socialize, communicate and be part of a much bigger project,” he said. 

With all the new excitement and implementations from the previous Canal Convergence, many are eager to pick up where Canal Convergence left off the last time it was a mass gathering. 

“We’re just excited to get back to what we were doing in 2019,” Boganey said. “We hope and pray that everything will work well and that everyone will have a great experience.” 

This year's Canal Convergence is dedicated to Judd Herberger who passed away on Oct. 27 at age 79. Herberger and his wife Billie Jo Herberger are best known for their efforts to fund the Herberger Theater and their support of Canal Convergence and Scottsdale Arts. 

What to do at Canal Convergence

Here are activities that are not yet sold out.

• Friday Nov. 5

Scribble Bots with the Arizona Science Center

6:15-7 p.m. $10 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Blackbird

6:15-7:45 p.m. Free.

Tasting Water with ASU 

7:10-8 p.m. Free *Must reserve seats online.

Vigas: LED Lantern Workshop

7:15-9:15 p.m. $30

Treasurefruit

8:15-9:45 p.m. Free.

 

• Saturday Nov. 6

Steel Dads

6-6:45 p.m. Free.

Bookbinding with the Walter Hive 

6:15-7:15 p.m. $15 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Tasting Water with ASU 

7:10-8 p.m. Free *Must reserve seats online.

Bluesman Mike and The Blues Review Band

7:15-8 p.m. Free.

Casey Farina: Creating with

Algorithms

7:45-8:45 p.m. $15 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Aura by Nicole Olson MovementChaos

8:15 p.m. Free

Danielle Durack 

8:30-9:45 p.m. Free

Liquid PXL: What Makes Mini Nova Sparkle? 

8:45-9:45 p.m. $10 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

• Sunday Nov. 7

 

Mariachi Rubor

6-7 p.m. Free.

Charles Gadeken: We Stand Together

6:15-7:45 p.m. $5 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Tasting Water with ASU

7:10-8 p.m. Free *Must reserve seats online.

Nolan McKelvey Trio

7:30-8:45 p.m. Free

Rembrandt Quiballo: From Art to NFT 

8-9 p.m. $10 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

 

• Monday Nov. 8

Zach Gillespie Trio

6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Free

Moonlight Magic

7:30-8:45 p.m. Free.

 

• Tuesday Nov. 9

Scottsdale Professionals Converge

6-8:30 p.m. $20 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Jenna Rae

6-7 p.m. Free.

Japhar Pullen

7:30-8:45 p.m. Free.

 

• Wednesday Nov. 10

Scottsdale Poet Laureate Lois Roma-Deeley

6-6:15 p.m. Free.

Ken Koshio

6:15-7 p.m. Free.

Kyle Mitchell 

7:15-8 p.m. 

 

• Thursday Nov. 11

Alexis Janae

6-6:45 p.m. 

Site-Responsive Sonic Art with Lauren Sarah Hayes

6:15-7:45 p.m. $15 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Salt River String Band

7:15-8:45 p.m. Free

PHOTO-Synthesis with Kendra Sollars

8-9 p.m. $10 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

 

• Friday Nov. 12

Art Tour

6-7 p.m. $5 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Tindal Muzic

6-6:45 p.m. Free.

Scribble Bots with Arizona Science Center

6:15-7 p.m. $10 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Tasting Water with ASU 

7:10-8 p.m. Free *Must reserve seats online.

Vigas: LED Lantern Workshop

7:15-9:15 p.m. $30 *tickets must be purchased in advance-

NOLAZ Band

7:15-8 p.m. Free.

The Gaines Brothers 

8:30-9:45 p.m. Free.

 

• Saturday Nov. 13

Art Tour 

6-7 p.m. $5 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Canal Convergence Closing Bash

6-9 p.m. $50 *tickets must be purchased in advance. 

Roy Wasson Valle Artist Talk

6-6:30 p.m. Free *Must reserve seats online-

Courtney Cotter King

6-6:45 p.m. Free

Alejandra Rodriguez Vega: Inspire Future Drone Design!

6:15-7:30 p.m. $10 *tickets must be purchased in advance to attend

Tasting Water with ASU 

7:10-8 p.m. Free *Must reserve seats online.

Jimmy Pines and Washboard Jere 

7:15-8 p.m. Free-

Sonic Found- Object Sculptures with Joe Willie Smith

8-9:45 p.m. $20 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Aura by Nicole Olson MovementChaos

8:15 p.m. Free.

Outside the Line

8:30-9:45 p.m. Free.

 

• Sunday Nov. 14

Act One: Arts Immersion: Freedom in Expression 

5:15 p.m. $10 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Art Tour

6-7 p.m. $5 *tickets must be purchased in advance.

Surfing Godzillas

6-7 p.m. Free.

Illuminated Watercolors with The Walter Hive

6:45-7:45 p.m. $15

Tasting Water with ASU 

7:10 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free *Must reserve seats online.

Betsy Ganz Trio

7:30-8:45 p.m. Free.

Byron Lahey, PhD: Digital Robotic Systems

8-9 p.m. $10 *Must reserve seats online.  

 

Info: Canalconvergence.com 

All tickets for workshops and speakers must be purchased in advance.