Art in the Heritage District
“Art changes people and people change the world.”
Art is not explicit in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and if it can be interpreted, it would likely be found at the top, in Self Actualization, after all other needs are met. In a conversation with a former council member in January 2016, it was remarked that because art is at the top, it simply isn’t a priority for a town like Gilbert. One could argue, as an award winning and affluent community, that Gilbert had, even then, acquired the status and stability to begin to address the top of the hierarchy. Despite being surrounded by communities with burgeoning art budgets there is no financial plan for public art in Gilbert. Nevertheless, through various private-public partnerships and advocates for artistic design, multiple surprising aesthetic elements have been incorporated that operate primarily for functional purposes but serve as delightful reminders that while humanity loves utility, we also love beauty.
While the Town’s Arts, Culture, and Tourism Board no longer exists, it was instrumental in bringing to the community several temporary public art installations from 2014-2018. These art installations were juried through IN FLUX which “brings together art, economic development, and property management organizations throughout the greater Phoenix area.” I was one of the judges that helped secure Gilbert’s last IN FLUX piece by Jennyfer Stratman. It was an incredible piece called “Connecting Point” which was on display just south of the American Legion in the Heritage Depot Plaza in 2018. From the IN FLUX site: “Connection Point is a sculptural representation of a line drawing capturing a quiet moment of reflection and contemplation. There are two figures made from steel and bronze. The internal figure, cast in bronze, represents the self or individual. The outer structure, a web crafted from welded steel, represents the infinite connections we share with each other and the universe. The relationship between the internal and external figure reflects the relationship between oneself and greater humanity.”
While we aren’t an “Arizona artist enclave” (Trulsson) just yet (and don’t appear to soon become one), don’t give up hope. Currently, there are several murals in the downtown area, decorative benches, unique lighting elements, aesthetic choices in signage, a kugel fountain, and “iconic roadside architecture.”
The next few articles will showcase and describe public art elements of the Heritage District that you may have seen but not understood or may simply have missed in your jaunts around downtown Gilbert. Enjoy the “tour!”
Kessler, Elaine. “Untitled Images.” Elaine Kessler Photography. 2018-2020. www.elainekesslerphotography.com
Mcleod, Saul. “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Simply Psychology. 20 Mar. 2020, https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
“Portfolio Archives: Gilbert.” IN FLUX, Scottsdale Public Art, influxaz.com/project-category/gilbert/.
Trulsson, Nora Burba. “ARIZONA’S ARTIST ENCLAVES.” Visit Arizona, 18 Feb. 2018, www.visitarizona.com/planning/local-word/arizonas-artist-enclaves.