Tempe will soon display art from up-and-coming creatives in Arizona.
The city is taking part in the annual IN FLUX program, which allows them to display work from new artists for a year. The program is currently in its 10th cycle. The other partner cities include Avondale, Chandler, Glendale, Peoria and Scottsdale.
Public artists hoping to increase their portfolios were invited to submit a portfolio, resume and a statement of intent. In Tempe, David Haff will be creating a 3-D sculpture for Tempe Beach Park and Zach Lihatsh will be creating a 3-D sculpture for Daley Park after they were selected by the city.
Both will also receive payments between $5,000 and $10,000 to display their work starting in June 2022.
Haff, a graduate of the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York, works as an assistant exhibit designer for the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix after moving to the Valley in late 2019. He said he’s looking forward to focusing more on his own art after being selected by IN FLUX and the city of Tempe.
“Once I moved to Arizona, I had a desire to create sculpture,” said Haff. “However, I didn't know any of the local manufacturing places here. I didn't know where to start. And so IN FLUX is this wonderful program where we work with members from the city who then will say, ‘Hey, we worked with these local manufacturers in the past, these painters in the past’ and they basically really show you the ropes of how to begin this kind of industry in the field. So I felt like this is a very good opportunity for me.”
Haff’s two-dimensional sculpture, called “A Sacred Vessel” will be located on the south side of Tempe Town Lake next to the bike corral off Mill and Rio Salado. The industrial piece will touch on Tempe’s deep Native American roots and the importance of oral traditions. Haff is Lenape, a Native American tribe.
“I wanted to create a piece of work that represents the beauty of that space,” he said. “So the way I thought it would make the most sense is this idea of what I call sacred vessels, which is a reflection back to the local Indigenous population here and the importance of pottery. Without pottery, civilization didn't have the opportunity to grow. And so this work is about this conversation about how important the lake is, and also how important the land is. So that was a big part of the story behind why I wanted to design the way I designed my project.”
Haff said the city has been a big help throughout the process and he’s looking forward to having his work on display for a wider audience.
“I'm very grateful to the city of Tempe for selecting me,” he said. “I don't think I would have done it without their support. I want my work to be seen by fellow artists. I want people to understand this conversation that I really hope to make clear with this idea that the city of Tempe itself has grown into this beautiful place, but there was something before that there was this.”
Zach Lihatsh is a jack-of-all-trades, working as a blacksmith, sculptor and fabricator in the Tucson area, in addition to creating tools that he sells at local markets. He and a business partner also own a warehouse that they rent out to other artists to help make ends meet.
Now, his work will be on display in the Valley for the first time.
“I heard about it through an organization here, the Tucson Pima Arts Council,” said Lihatsh. “They put out newsletters pretty regularly for public art opportunities in the states and abroad as well. I'd love to have work in the Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe area. That whole area is definitely a little more foreign to me. It’s nice to just have an excuse to go up there and explore.”
His piece, which utilizes natural and fabricated elements, is part of a larger series of work he started in graduate school called “Bound” at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. His latest will be on display in Tempe on the corner of College and Encanto at Daley Park.
“They combine hand-forged steel elements with some fabrication and either wood or brass or reeds,” said Lihatsh. “The natural materials kind of manipulate, push, pull and spread. They all retain some sense of tension between steel material and the natural material. It's all about the struggle between the natural world and I guess we would call it the industrial or civilized world.”
As an up-and-coming artist, he loves that the IN FLUX program can inspire communities and allow artists like him to show their work to a wider audience.
“It's a great opportunity to show some work and get some exposure, try some things out and create more dialogue in the community about and with artists,” said Lihatsh.
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