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First Responders

New Scottsdale fire station has public artworks by Christine Lee

Posted 12/16/20

Fire Station 603, which opened on Indian Bend Road, features two original public artworks: “Rug Runner” and “Wallpaper Tapestry” by Tempe artist Christine Lee.

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First Responders

New Scottsdale fire station has public artworks by Christine Lee


Scottsdale Fire Station 603, which opened on Indian Bend Road, features two original public artworks: “Rug Runner” and “Wallpaper Tapestry” by Tempe artist Christine Lee.

The two-part project completed in early December was officially accessioned into the city of Scottsdale Permanent Art Collection on Dec. 9, according to a press release.

“Rug Runner” is a custom terrazzo floor and “Wallpaper Tapestry” is a dichroic film window treatment, the release noted of the project commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art on behalf of the city's new fire station, which is the second in Scottsdale to receive an artist-designed terrazzo floor, the release said. 

“Christine took a thoughtful approach to the design, with the firefighters being the focus,” said Tanya Galin, public art coordinator for Scottsdale Public Art, in a prepared statement.

“She immersed herself into the project and took in as much information as she could, from visiting the fire stations and training facilities to riding along in the fire truck.”

“Rug Runner,” at Fire Station 603, extends outside the building and features solar-charged luminescent chips that give off a soft glow after dark.

Ms. Lee designed the custom terrazzo floor in conjunction with “Wallpaper Tapestry,” which can be found adjacent to the indoor portion of the terrazzo flooring.

During her research, she learned the first responders who work out of Fire Station 603 are likened to the “Swiss Army knife of people,” adapting to a variety of situations and interacting with the afflicted in efficient and elegant ways, said the release.

“I thank the members of Fire Station 603 and all of our first responders for the hard work and compassion they give to the strangers they encounter every day,” said Ms. Lee in a prepared statement.

“It was really eye opening to learn how their tools, equipment and protocol could protect the lives of others, as well as themselves, so I felt it was important to both symbolically and physically embed these elements into the artwork.”

Ms. Lee is a senior sustainability scholar of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and an assistant professor in wood/sustainability at Arizona State University’s School of Art.

She has exhibited her work from New York City to San Francisco; and locally at the ASU Art Museum in Tempe. She received a master's of fine arts from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“Rug Runner” and “Wallpaper Tapestry” reference a repeating diamond pattern, also found on various protective gear and equipment used by firefighters. The interior portion of “Rug Runner” incorporates actual spanners and rings sliced from decommissioned firefighting couplings.

As it extends outside the fire station, the terrazzo design switches to aluminum pieces shaped like the firefighting equipment, noted the release.

“You first notice this beautiful pattern, but then you move in closer and see that they are actual tools,” Ms. Galin said. “She makes you stop and examine the artwork.”

“Wallpaper Tapestry” has a similar effect, the release said, adding when viewed at a distance, a silhouette of nearby Camelback Mountain can be seen, but up close, the dichroic film design reveals hundreds of fire department shields composing the shape.

Printed to emulate wallpaper, the dichroic film and vinyl overlay takes on different color values, ranging from the cool hues of water to the warm tones of a sunset, depending on the position of the viewer and the reflected light, the release noted.

Assistant Fire Chief Ryan Freeburg said the Scottsdale Fire Department was interested in a public art installation that would be inviting to the community and attract people to the new fire station.

“The public art created by Christine can be enjoyed as the visitor approaches the front door of the fire station, and the art then transitions through the front door into the fire station,” said Mr. Freeburg in a prepared statement.

“This would allow the community an ‘outside in’ perspective to enjoy the public art and the fire station, funded through their tax dollars, in one visit.”

To learn more about “Rug Runner” and “Wallpaper Tapestry,” visit ScottsdalePublicArt.org/work/rug-runner-and-wallpaper-tapestry/.