As the weather cools and the Sonoran Desert transforms, people from all over the Valley benefit from the plethora of outdoor activities found in metro Phoenix. There seem to be multiple outdoor festivals every weekend during this prime time of year. 

If you love the outdoors and contemporary art, you can’t go wrong with Scottsdale Arts’ Canal Convergence. This not-to-be missed annual event started in 2012 and has evolved into an international award-winning festival, featuring art installations and performances from artists all over the world, that grows more elaborate each year. 

Scottsdale Public Art created Local Light as an extension of Canal Convergence in order to promote art and business in the surrounding area. Now in its second iteration, Local Lightfocuses on artists from around the Valley. The art installations are located away from the actual canal, throughout Old Town.

This year offers six light-based installations commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art. Casey Farina, who was featured in last year’s inaugural event, creates another of his motion video projections. Farina won a Contemporary Forum Artist Grant in 2017 and exhibited his work in the Phoenix Art Museum in 2018. 

“Traverse” by Casey Farina

Traverse is a “generative video installation that uses projection mapping.” This kind of immersive and visually ambitious work doesn’t quite fit the traditional white cube gallery and is perfect for Local Light. Projectors light up several storefront windows. Morphing organic shapes travel from one window to the next in kinetic fashion. Thankfully, one doesn’t need to understand the complex technology involved in creating the imagery in order to enjoy the visually captivating experience. 

Another noteworthy piece is Francisco Flores’ Into the Distance. Located on a second-story balcony, it features several tall columns that emit light in a gradual upward flow. At first glance, the work might look like another piece of media vying to capture our attention in order to sell something. But closer inspection reveals a deeply contemplative light installation that asks the viewer to look up and, in doing so, reflect on things beyond our corporeal state. 

“Into the Distance” by Francisco Flores

Flores has been using technology to explore notions of spirituality and one’s higher self for several years. His landmark art exhibition Crystals and Lasersat Unexpected Gallery used a truly interdisciplinary approach to convey his search for the profound. In this instance, surrounded by the ephemera of commerce, Into the Distance provides an understated respite from the everyday and a reminder to look beyond what’s in front of you. 

An art installation that appropriates sunset imagery from the Creative Commons Library is displayed at Carlson Creek Wine Tasting Room. The artists behind the piece are appropriately called The Sunset People.

“The Sunset Stack” by The Sunset People

Having recently relocated from Los Angeles to Paradise Valley, The Sunset People is the husband-and-wife team of Jesse Willenbring and Bevin McNamara. Their reference to nostalgic cathode ray television screens to depict uploads by the general public tagged as “sunset” is quite clever. The use of appropriated imagery generated from the Internet has been gaining popularity as art material for years. What sets this installation apart is its slick presentation and use of imaginative filters and composited images to create a fun twist on an otherwise mundane subject matter.

Recently named “Best Neon Artist” in the Phoenix New Times’ Best of Phoenix 2019, Daniel Funkhouser has installed his distinct and colorful cutout acrylic shapes in two different wings of Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall.

“Pocket Dimension” by Daniel Funkhouser

Using innovative laser cutting and lighting techniques, Funkhouser produces eye candy with a conscience. His recent exhibition at Vision Gallery with Sarah Hurwitz was a revelation in its use of seductive imagery to touch on larger, troubling environmental issues. His two installations titled Pocket Dimension allude to his interest in speculative science fiction and are gorgeous portals to an alternate version of the Sonoran Desert.

There is also a site-specific art installation by Amanda Clayton/Ellipsis Studio placed in a planting bed, showing the importance of landscape. Eli Richard’s Sun Lanterns again makes an appearance, having been temporarily displayed at Civic Center Mall on the non-functioning water fountains. It was such a hit with the public it was brought back for Local Light.

“Terroir” by Amanda Clayton

As Canal Convergence grows and attracts a wider international audience, Scottsdale Public Art has found a way to engage the local arts and business community to keep it continuously vibrant through Local Light.

Local Light

Runs nightly through Jan. 31