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The Scottsdale Civic Center

The Scottsdale Civic Center, situated in Old Town, serves as a cultural hub for the entire city, including our residents at Optima Sonoran Village®. It seamlessly balances Scottsdale’s historical identity as “The West’s Most Western Town” with modern influences, making it a popular focal point where the city’s heritage intertwines with its more recent cultural and artistic expressions. 

This urban oasis is surrounded by some of Scottsdale’s most vital facilities, including City Hall, Civic Center Library, Center for the Performing Arts, and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s both a retail center and a retreat, marked by its lush greenery, tranquil fountains, and eclectic sculptures. You can also enjoy views of Camelback Mountain, which becomes particularly captivating at dusk, offering a serene environment for relaxation and cultural immersion.

Civic Center City Hall. Photo: SAH Archipedia

The Civic Center dates back to 1966 when a master plan by local architectural firm Bennie M. Gonzales Associates was adopted, emphasizing the seat of town governance as “an open invitation for citizens to participate in their government.” Bennie M. Gonzales, with his distinct Southwestern modernist style, led the planning and design process during the center’s foundational years. His designs are characterized by their harmony with the environment and their use of natural materials, which can be seen in the kiva-like City Hall, the Civic Center Library (built in 1968) and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (constructed in 1975).

Scottsdale Civic Center Library. Photo: Kevin Bondelli

Decades later, award-winning architect Will Bruder further shaped the Civic Center, designing the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (constructed in 1999). His design paid homage to the curved facades of the neighboring Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Sculptures including Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture and George-Ann Tognoni’s The Yearlings further amplify the center’s art scene. Adjacent to them, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, with its stages and galleries, has hosted notable events like the Arizona Concours d’Elegance, enriching the center’s aesthetic and cultural offerings.

George-Ann Tognoni’s The Yearlings at the west entrance to the Civic Center.
Photo: Scottsdale Public A

The Scottsdale Civic Center has recently seen major renovations, with its western two-thirds reopening back in January 2023. With plans to showcase 80 annual outdoor events over the next several years, ranging from national touring acts and orchestras to dance ensembles and community events, the Civic Center remains committed to cultural vibrancy and communal engagement.

Keen on exploring upcoming Civic Center events? Follow the link here for more information.

A Guide to This Seasons Art Exhibitions

With bustling art communities in both cities, Chicago and Scottsdale are regularly home to some of the most widely recognized exhibitions throughout the country. From a lush garden installation in Chicago to an interactive building exhibit in Scottsdale, both have plenty of thrilling shows to enjoy this autumn. For Optima residents looking to experience some of the most inspiring shows of the year, here are the ones you can’t miss: 

Chicago

Roughly 25 miles Southwest of Chicago, the Morton Arboretum is home to one of the area’s most stunning exhibitions of the year, Human+Nature. The outdoor art exhibition features eight unique sculptures that range from 15 to 26 feet tall. The artist, Daniel Popper, used hard-wearing materials like glass-fiber reinforced concrete to construct the sculptures to endure Chicago’s winter weather. While Popper used the arboretum and its mission as the inspiration for many of the sculptures, he encourages visitors to connect to the stunning surroundings and discover a meaning of their own. Human+Nature runs through May 2023, and you can reserve tickets here

Human+Nature, Daniel Propper, Morton Arboretum

Through February 2023, Chicago’s Driehaus Museum off of the Magnificent Mile is home to Capturing Louis Sullivan: What Richard Nickel Saw. The exhibition captures the demolition of many of Sullivan’s buildings in Chicago in the 1960s and 70s through the lens of activist Richard Nickel. Ultimately, the exhibit celebrates Sullivan’s architectural legacy and the unwearying efforts many activists took to save it. Reserve tickets here.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is observing its 50th anniversary throughout 2022! Flourish: The Garden at 50 is an ongoing installation celebrating the connections between art and nature. Through September 25, 2022, the garden features artwork from both local and foreign artists. The event features pop-ups and performances, including a mariachi band on September 24 and 25 and various exhibitions looking towards its future. Find tickets to the celebration here

Scottsdale

Found in the heart of Mesa, the i.d.e.a. Museum’s latest exhibition, Imagine, Design, Build!, invites its guests into an environment rich in color and experience. The interactive exhibit features 40 works by 15 artists around the world, ranging from paintings to LED installations. With a focus on the science and art of design, visitors beyond the gallery have various interactive opportunities, like designing a building of their own! Find tickets here

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is also home to various thrilling exhibitions this fall. Ending on October 9, 2022, Brad Halhamer: Swap Meet showcases the work of Native American artist Brad Kahlhamer. From its sculptures to musical performances, the diverse exhibition explores the uncertainty of identity and the nomadic art practice. 

Three Parallels, Phillip K. Smith III, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Opening October 29, 2022, Phillip K. Smith III: Three Parallels is another exhibit coming to SMoCA as part of their Architecture + Art series. The site-specific installation presents itself as an interactive exhibit for visitors. Using vibrant colors, light shifts and large-scale mirrors, each step in the exhibition provides a new perception of the exhibit’s space. Tickets for both exhibitions at SMoCA can be found here

And the list doesn’t end here! So with autumn in full gear, grab friends and family to enjoy these two special cities in artfully exciting ways.

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