27th Avenue Park and Ride, Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture
Powder-coated steel shade and seating structure.
13 ft x 64 ft x 5 ft
A monumental shade screen with integrated seating provides a grand entry into Laveen, an agricultural community that has been absorbed into Phoenix. The imagery of cowboys leaning against a split-rail fence (now waiting for a bus, perhaps?) shelter recalls the recent agricultural history of the area. The screen features five cowboys, and the three approaching free-standing screens include larger-than-life images of a cowboy’s horse, a cactus wren, and a jackrabbit. The artwork’s title comes from the song by Big Country.
When I’m working on a public art project, the driving question is always, “What can I do to make the place better for the people who will be spending time there every day?” I moved to Phoenix when I was ten years old, and growing up here in the 80s, there weren’t many welcoming public spaces here. When I’m working on a transit project like a bus shelter or a train station, my aim is to inject some humanity into an inherently utilitarian space: to make it more comfortable, more beautiful, more interesting. The folding-screen design for these park and rides is a form that developed as a solution to several parallel goals: to provide vertical shade for rush-hour bus riders, to provide seating for people waiting, to create a gateway structure into the site, and to make a highly visible landmark structure for the neighborhood. Cut metal in a sculptural frame turned out to be a useful and flexible format. Three park and rides around town have shade screens now, each with a different cut-metal design that reflects the neighborhood.