Exploring the Scottsdale Arts District

Since the early 2000s, Optima has called Scottsdale home. The one-of-a-kind desert city offers a little bit of something for everyone. Golf lovers can enjoy the sprawling championship courses, foodies have access to some of the country’s finest dining and chic boutiques provide shoppers endless entertainment. We are proud of our contributions to this vibrant city with the amazing communities of Optima Camelview Village, Optima Sonoran Village and Optima Kierland, and equally proud to see the city continuing to expand its cultural offerings to residents and visitors alike. Today we’re exploring one of the city’s most treasured locations, the Scottsdale Arts District

The arts district consists of an entire neighborhood found in the heart of Downtown Scottsdale, running along Main Street for roughly six blocks. Celebrated art galleries sit next to amazing art installations. Around them, retailers, boutiques and acclaimed restaurants ensure that visitors to the district are fully immersed in the best of everything. 

Some of Scottsdale’s most cherished pieces of public art – like the commanding sculpture Jack Knife – reside in the district, along with a number of the city’s museums and cultural venues including Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts, the home of Knight Rise.

Throughout the year, the arts district embraces its warm surroundings and friendly culture with its weekly ArtWalk. Every Thursday from 7 PM – 9 PM, buildings lining Main Street open their doors to the individuals enjoying the Scottsdale ArtWalk. In addition to this weekly tradition, ArtWalk hosts a themed Gold Palette series event every few weeks to offer even more exciting entertainment and showcase only the best of the best works of art. Live music, complimentary food and wine tastings, and extended gallery hours are just some of the few extra features that come along with the special event. Upcoming Gold Palette events include Western Week on February 3 and Native Spirit on March 3.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art found in the Scottsdale Arts District, Courtesy of SMoCA

As we continue to develop our vibrant culture here in Scottsdale, particularly with the expansion of the Kierland community, we look forward to discovering new opportunities to enjoy the city’s rich cultural and entertainment programming, unique retail experiences and fantastic dining values, where there is truly something for everyone.

Scottsdale Public Art: Jack Knife

We love Scottsdale for many reasons, one of which is its vibrant and bustling arts scene. Home to the Scottsdale Arts District, the city makes its unique voice heard through striking public art such as Jack Knife by Ed Mell. To understand more about the local arts scene and to celebrate its impact on the city our residents call home, today we’re exploring the work and artistry behind Jack Knife.

Jack Knife boldly commands attention at the intersection of Marshall Way and Main Street in Downtown Scottsdale — the center of the Scottsdale Arts District — mere steps away from Optima Sonoran Village. The piece is the perfect introduction to the city’s history and culture, depicting a rider astride a bucking horse modelled after the official city seal. The bronze sculpture, which sits on a high pedestal, stands over eight feet high. Even more notable: Jack Knife is Ed Mell’s first ever large-scale sculpture. 

Completed in 1993, Mell says of his work: “Jack Knife has a reverence for the Old West. It is not traditional, but yet it has a traditional theme. The angularity accelerates the power and energy of the rider and horse, more than accurate depiction.” While the piece may have been his first large-scale experimentation, Mell is one of Arizona’s premier artists. 

Mell grew up in Phoenix, and his artistic practice is inspired by the natural beauty and wonder of the desert. He works primarily in oil paint, creating natural expressions of the Western landscape that exhibit striking colors and Cubist elements. This bold, graphic style is translated evidently into Jack Knife, and the artists’ passion for Arizona shines through, too. 

It’s passionate creations like these that inspire us every day, and make us proud to call Scottsdale Optima’s second home.

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