Phoenix artist brings bounce to Scottsdale Art Festival

Kids will know the weeble-wobble-like play structures debuting at the Scottsdale Arts Festival this weekend are fun.

Adults of a certain age will know that its title, “Shifting Sand Land,” refers to the desert level in the old-school Super Mario Brothers video game.

What neither probably will know is that Phoenix artist Bobby Zokaites used math to create the rocking sculptures. Of the 25 platforms of varying sizes designed for hopping, the largest weighted with water is 900 pounds. Wouldn’t want that tipping over.

“I use math every day,” said Zokaites, a recent Masters of Fine Art graduate of the Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design and Arts. “I ran out of math classes to take. I’m one credit short of a mathematics degree.”

Now in its 45th year, the festival on the lawn of its sponsor, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, boasts 175 artists of a wide variety of media, continuous live music on two stages and, as always, interactive activities free with the price of admission.

The annual arts festival, which draws up to 40,000 visitors with good weather, appeals to serious art collectors, music lovers, kids and more.

Zokaites’ work, which will be installed near City Hall in Scottsdale Civic Center Park, was commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art, a city-funded initiative that seeks to attract Scottsdale and Valley residents into town through temporary exhibits, festivals and iconic statuary. His sculptures capture the interactive element that has become a signature of the art program’s temporary installations. Public Art split the $14,500, commission cost with the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

“He had a history of work that was interactive and something that was for all ages,” said Kirstin Van Cleef, Scottsdale Public Art’s temporary project manager. “When you’re in a festival setting, you need something that’s going to pop.”

Some have referred to the round platforms ranging in diameter from 18 inches to 6 feet as stepping stones or lily pads. Other artists working in ASU’s Grant Street Studios in downtown have hop scotched or rolled along the platforms like passengers in a boat tossed by gentle waves. How kids will use them is anyone’s guess.

“Of the 20 people who have tried it, they all approach it different in getting from point A to point B,” Zokaites said. “People’s kids will show them how to play on it. That’s the magic of it.”

Zokaites, 29, grew up building forts with his brothers in Virginia and “Shifting Sand Land” explores adventure and childhood. Though he references a video game he once played between art classes, he’s not tech savvy. He still uses a flip phone, paper maps for directions and has limited his computer screen time to 20 minutes a day.

His latest work grew out of a 2014 temporary installation for the Gilbert Arts, Culture and Tourism Board that also used shapes similar to the ones in “Shifting Sand Land.” Having nothing better to do at the time, he stood on the a steel shape, felt the rocking and began exploring the idea of balance and play. Having recently completed an MFA program that emphasized intellectual concepts in art, it would be selling the artist short to say he was simply playing around when he created a playful piece of art.

“Yes, I am playing around, but with intellectual ideas,” he said.

Scottsdale Arts Festival

What: A Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presentation of three days of fine arts, music, food trucks and artist demonstrations.

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Where: The lawn outside Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. Second St., Scottsdale.

Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for students and free for members and children 12 and younger. A two-day pass is $15.

Details:ScottsdaleArtsFestival.org or through 480-499-TKTS (8587).

7 groups wooed and wowed by the Scottsdale Arts Festival

Music lovers: More than 20 Arizona bands and performers of blues, country/folk, jazz and RB and rock, provide continuous entertainment on two stages. Among the musical acts are ’56, Alan Jones Jazz Quintet, Ashley Wineland, Big Nick the Gila Monsters, the Blue Goats, Blues Review Band, Carmela y Mas, Jan Sandwich Band, Str8 Up Band, Robby Roberson Quartet, Teneia Sanders, Traveler and Whiskey Kiss.

Art collectors: Often lauded as one of the top arts fairs in America, the Scottsdale festival features 175 jury-selected artists who work in painting, sculpture, glass, ceramics, jewelry, photography and other media.

Food truck fans: This year’s gourmet food trucks include the Grilled Cheese Truck, Kruzin Cuisine, Luncha Libre, the Maine Lobster Lady, Paletas Betty, Q Up! Barbecue, Rollover Donuts, Satay Hut, Short Leash Hotdogs, Spice It Up, Taste Rite!, Tom’s BBQ, the Traveling Monk and Whiskey Ranch BBQ.

Kids: Imagine Nation, the festival’s family area, is one of the most popular events because it gives visitors of all ages a chance to take home their own art. It also includes free art activities, storytelling, dancing and more. This year’s theme is “I Love Toys! FUN! Let’s Play!”

Deal seekers: With the price of a festival ticket, admission is free to neighboring Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which features the exhibitions “Afghan War Rugs: The Modern Art of Central Asia”; “southwestNET: Postcommodity”; murals by James Marshall (aka Dalek); James Turrell’s skyspace “Knight Rise” and more. Details: smoca.org.

Gift shoppers: Festival merchandise is available at the Store at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, which also offers a selection of artist-made jewelry, imaginative toys, decorative objects from around the world, furnishings for home and office, music, books and greeting cards.

Players: In collaboration with the festival, Scottsdale Public Art will debut “Shifting Sand Land,” by artist Bobby Zokaites. Inspired by the video-game world of Super Mario Brothers, colorful platforms gently rock back and forth, inviting visitors to climb on and hop from one to the next. The work will be installed near City Hall in Scottsdale Civic Center Park.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2015/03/11/scottsdale-arts-festival-march/70164438/