Thursday, April 03, 2008

Phoenix's Grace Court developer to unveil public arts projects

[Source: Downtown Phoenix Journal] -- Broadreach Capital Partners will unveil two important public art projects in downtown Phoenix on Friday, April 4, as well as celebrate the grand opening of the Phoenix Madison Square Garden Museum at the dedication ceremony of its Grace Court project, a recently completed 300,000-square-foot office complex. The Phoenix Madison Square Garden Museum, which is located within the Grace Court project (pictured), was created by Broadreach to commemorate the famed arena. The museum pays homage to Phoenix Madison Square Garden's pugilistic and entertainment history through interpretive displays illustrating key events, activities and personalities, according to historian Vincent Murray.

Built in 1929 for professional boxing and wrestling matches and named after the famous venue in New York City, the largest indoor arena in Phoenix at the time soon became an established venue for many local entertainment acts, including Wayne Newton, Marty Robbins and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Duane Eddy who made his debut at Phoenix Madison Square Garden. These and other activities are memorialized on the bronze plaques mounted on a simulated boxing ring. Visible steel trusses from the original building as well as salvaged plaster ornaments are also incorporated into the museum's design. Two nine-foot abstracted bronze figures titled The Opponents sculpted by artist Rebecca Thompson are located at the front of the Museum on Seventh Street and serve as guardians of the site, according to the artist. Also being unveiled is Thompson's The Phoenix, a sustainable 28-foot rammed earth monument that was designed as a gateway feature to the western entrance to downtown.

"The Phoenix myth is primarily about transformation and renewal, and I designed 'The Phoenix' sculpture to embody a metaphorical balance of the elements, earth, water, wind and fire," says Thompson. The extremely labor-intensive sculpture made of 80 tons of local soils, sand, clay and cement, reveals fish and other aquatic life forms modeled in bronze plates that wrap around the monument like a river. "The Phoenix is the first and largest of its kind in Arizona," says Thompson. The unveiling of the art projects and the opening of the museum will take part in conjunction with First Friday Art Walk, a free self guided tour of galleries, studios and art spaces that runs from 6 to 8 p.m. April 4. Grace Court is a recently completed 300,000-square-foot office complex in downtown Phoenix. It includes the renovated historic Grace Court School, three new office buildings, and an 800-car garage. [Photo source: Arizona Republic.]