Nestled in between the light rail station/bus depot and the Arizona State University Downtown campus is Phoenix Civic Space Park. It’s a rather small park – containing a public conference building with a coffee shop downstairs and wide outdoor spaces to relax and enjoy the outdoors. But the one thing the park is known for is the giant public art piece hanging above the park.
The massive sculpture is titled Her Secret is Patience by Boston artist Janet Echelman. The park, sculpture and all, opened in April 2009 and the sculpture was a controversial topic among Phoenicians as it cost the city $2.4 million dollars. Yeow!
I have to admit, as much as I love the idea of public art, went it was first erected I thought it looked silly, especially for $2.4 million. Knowing the money had already been spent for this, many city dwellers had fun guessing what exactly this looked like.
The list ran the gamut from giant jellyfish to tornado to UFO to giant condom. I leaned towards jellyfish and thought it looked like something Radiohead would have as cover art on a B-side EP.
Turns out tornado is the closest guess to the artist’s intention. Ms. Echelman named the sculpture after a line in a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem:
Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.
Nature, specifically monsoon clouds and saguro blossoms, were the inspiration for the sculpture. The sculpture lights up at night and during the summer, the city has concerts and outdoor movies in the park under the lighted scultpure. Below is a photo from the City of Phoenix’s parks site:
I walked over to the park during my lunch break earlier in the week and took a few photos (including the one at the top of the post). They’re not as impressive as the photo from the park’s website as I wanted to get out of the blazing sun as fast as possible. Hopefully it gives you an idea of the expansive nature of the sculpture.
In the four years this sculpture has been around, I’ve grown to like and understand the piece. It does add something to the skyline and breaks up the monotony of mid and high rise buildings. But, I do still find myself occassionally muttering “$2.4 million dollars” when I stare at it straight on.