Tuesday, October 21, 2014

En Plein Airport

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Muralists and mosaicists help Sky Harbor’s new METRO Light Rail connection take flight.

Airport art, like airport food, has an unflattering reputation. However, that stigma is quickly fading at Phoenix Sky Harbor, where $5.6 million in commissions have turned the airport’s recently unveiled PHX Sky Train system into a veritable gallery of high-design terrazzo flooring, funky overhead art and well-appointed pedestrian bridges. Coupled with the new wave of terminal-based gourmet local restaurants at Sky Harbor, the Sky Train art walk makes for an edifying commute – even if you don’t have a boarding pass.


“Trace Elements”
 What started with leaves collected from all over Arizona has become a $1.2 million stained glass mural project created by artist Daniel Mayer, integrated into the two pedestrian connector bridges at the passenger drop-off on the south side of Terminal 4. Mayer, a book and letterpress artist, ran the leaves through his press onto aluminum foil and then used the relief images as the foundation for the 28 large-scale panels that compose the two murals.  

“Journey Through Nature”
Follow the floral and geometric patterns on the pedestrian bridge that links PHX Sky Train to the 44th Street light rail stop to an intricately detailed mandala in the overpass (above right). The $800,000 terrazzo floor was created by Tucson painter Daniel Martin Diaz, who digs highly ornamental images. Barring a mad dash to make your flight, take a second to search out the abalone shells, native desert stones and recycled glass.

“Blue Stratus”
Feeling blue about leaving Arizona? Take a last look at the ground floor atrium of the 44th Street PHX Sky Train station (above left). Inspired by our azure skies, the $1.4 million ceiling installation was created by the international team of Mario Madayag, Michael Parekowhai and Paul Deeb, who hand-shaped 6,610 aluminum reflector panels and LED lights. The panels are painted six shades of blue and designed to dance in the breeze. The lights are programmed above the ceiling to create a slowly changing tableau of rich color.

“Variable Order”
Daniel Mayer’s love of letters plays a role in the $500,000 terrazzo and aluminum floor he created for the Terminal 4 Station platform. The letterpress artist, who teaches at ASU, embedded more than 1,000 aluminum letters into the floor. Along with dreamlike, nebulous dictums – e.g. “timeless is the open” – the floor’s terrazzo aggregate of crushed mirror, blue and clear glass, and abundant abalone lend vibrancy, depth and detail.

“Topo Magic”
Apache Junction artist Anne Coe’s connection with the land shines through in the terrazzo floors she designed for the Phoenix Sky Train East Economy Lot Station platform. Born on a remote ranch, the fourth-generation Arizonan used 11 colors to create a landscape narrative through wiggling shapes and fluid contours. The floor is a stylized depiction of Arizona rivers, canyons and landforms inspired by topographic maps.

“Tailplane Patterns”
There’s nothing plain about the planes pictured in former Phoenix artist Fausto Fernandez’s floor work at the 44th Street PHX Sky Train Platform. The design combines layered colors and tail-stabilizer shapes to create a sense of movement. The floor, which uses 10 colors to create rhythmic geometric patterns and crusted mirrors to create a highly reflective quality, is “going places.”

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Sky Harbor Restaurants
Gone are the days when a Burger King and Cinnabon were a Phoenix air traveler’s only food options. In 2012, an impressive roster of Valley culinary hotspots – including Barrio Cafe, Blanco Tacos & Tequila, Chelsea’s Kitchen, Cowboy Ciao, La Grande Orange, Olive & Ivy Marketplace, and Sauce – opened outposts in Terminal 4, which now boasts arguably the densest collection of foodie-approved restos in the Valley. In 2013, the airport is adding more rave-worthy options, including Humble Pie, Lola Coffee with Tammie Coe Cakes, Wildflower Bread Company and Zinc Bistro. Visit skyharbor.com.

 

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