In Flux meeting illustrates art projects in A.R.T.S. Market lot and Hance Park

(Courtney Pedroza/DD)
TODAY I…” is an interactive art project by Sarah Hurwitz in the Roosevelt Row A.R.T.S. Market with the In Flux: Cycle 4 program, which brings together artists and helps them get recognition for their work. (Courtney Pedroza/DD)

In Flux: Cycle 4, a program that brings together artists in eight cities throughout the Valley and helps them improve their skills and get recognition for their hard work, met with more than 25 art lovers downtown Wednesday night to talk about their experience with temporary art installations.

The meeting, which featured a discussion about projects by artists Erin V. Sotak and Sarah Hurwitz, aimed to provide others with insights into what it is like to work with In Flux and also show off some of their work.

After gathering at the Roosevelt Row A.R.T.S. Market lot on Roosevelt and Fourth streets, the attendees were able to experience Sotak’s and Hurwitz’s current projects, both of which relied heavily on interaction with the audience.

Sotak’s project consists of cots in Margaret T. Hance Park while Hurwitz’s is a podium in the A.R.T.S. Market.

Scottsdale Public Art Manager Kirstin Van Cleef said she thinks it’s best for art projects throughout the city, such as those of Sotak and Hurwitz, to be temporary.

“People often wish that temporary projects would stay, which is great because that means they have a sense of ownership and have grown to love them,” Van Cleef said. “But the whole reason that they exist is that they are temporary. I prefer it that way, I feel that it’s a more modern approach to art in public spaces. Even permanent artwork is technically temporary; it may not all last forever.”

“Look Up”

Sotak, a Scottsdale artist, was commissioned by the city of Phoenix to create a temporary project in Margaret T. Hance Park. She wanted to make something that would engage the people of downtown Phoenix, she said.

“I decided to take a few cots, put them in the park and ask people to take a minute out of their day to lay down and look up at the clouds,” Sotak said.

Although there are days when there isn’t a cloud in the sky, Sotak said she still has people joining her in the park every Wednesday from 1-3 p.m. to look up.

Sotak said she got the idea because she naturally looks up and thought sharing an aesthetic moment with a stranger would be charming.

“There is a sense of vulnerability in lying down in public … some people are prepared to, at any moment, run,” Sotak said. “You learn a lot about the population here in downtown Phoenix, which is really interesting.”

Sotak said she hopes her project would one day expand outside the urban areas of Phoenix.

“I don’t think my project could be permanent, but I would like to see the cots eventually popping up around the city,” Sotak said.

“Prize-Winning Participator”

People walking along Roosevelt Street can stop at Valley artist Sarah Hurwitz’s project, a large purple podium for medal winners. Above it is a small chalkboard where they can write any achievements they have, under a gold-painted ribbon that says, “TODAY I…”

A busy and pregnant Hurwitz felt she should have been rewarded for everything she was doing, ultimately providing inspiration for her A.R.T.S. Market installation.

“My art is naturally very self-involved and that’s how this project started, but I wanted to make it participatory,” Hurwitz said.

In the description of her project, Hurwitz explained her inspiration and wrote, “I come from a generation that was often chided for being the recipient of too many purple participation ribbons.” With this project, Hurwitz wanted people to award themselves for their accomplishments, no matter how small, she said.

“I wanted it to be a festive thing that you could take a photo against,” Hurwitz said.

Similar to Sotak, Hurwitz also relies on a level of interaction for her project. While the city of Phoenix had a specific goal for Sotak’s project, Hurwitz had a bit more leeway.

Although Sotak has seen some cloud watchers become regulars and Hurwitz has seen people crowd her project on First Fridays, these projects are only temporary.

Sotak’s cots will be in Hance Park until the end of April, and Hurwitz will have her project displayed in the A.R.T.S. Market lot until October.

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