The “Flying Mushroom” in Downtown Phoenix
PHOENIX — One of the more recent additions to the city’s public art is large and a bit difficult to understand. Since being installed in the Civic Space Park in 2009, it has drawn considerable comment, not all of it favorable. Artist Janet Echelman called it “Her Secret is Patience,” a phrase taken from a Ralph Waldo Emerson essay. She said the project was designed to emulate the patterns of desert winds but several critics initially called it “an enormous mushroom.” Others branded it “a miniature tornado,” “a wormhole,” and “a fisherman’s net.”
Despite the criticism, the work has been gracefully accepted by those who go see the huge net-like creation that hangs from two rings suspended between two poles that stand from 105 to 145 feet tall. The nets are made of galvanized steel cables and polyester so the piece changes shape with even the slightest breeze. And it changes color as the sun makes its way across the park, located on First Avenue, just south of Fillmore Avenue in downtown Phoenix.
I moved away a few years ago so was unaware of this thing. Hideous!! Wonder how much money the city paid for this thing…
“Hideous” is the perfect word for it. It cost more than $2 million, or so I read at the time it was installed. It has always made me think of those lint filters that are sometimes used in plumbing. Or maybe some terribly mutilated Chore Boy scrubber.
“Flying uterus” is the term I’ve heard most to describe this monstrosity. I’ve heard tourists from around the world on light rail wonder what it was and why it was there. It’s not the “world class” art installation the city officials who approved it thought it would be.
Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but why spend time & energy to bash a piece of art that you happen to not be crazy about. Life is to short for all this negativity. But that’s just my opinion I guess. I doubt Janet Echelman will ever read this, but I would like to tell her that myself, and quite a few other folks all around the valley, really like the sculpture, piece of art, worms anus, or whatever people take to calling it. I enjoy it on some level or another every time I pass by it. Keep it up.
I don’t really think “all this negativity” is as much about the work itself as it is about the two and a half million dollars that was spent on a piece that was not favored by the tax payers during a bad financial time. Phoenix has a history of going selectively deaf when its citizens would rather spend tax dollars to keep neighborhoods safe, libraries open, and schools modernized (for example) than on esoteric, non-traditional art projects. The “Squaw Peak Parkway Pots” is another example of a Phoenix art-project-gone-wrong, to the tune of nearly half a million bucks. Many of her citizens just got tired of having the tax-dollar rug yanked out from under their community, and of knowing Phoenix will do it to them again and again.