Phoenix Arts and Culture Commissions Approves Spending on New Art Installation for Airport

Phoenix Arts and Culture Commissions Approves Spending on New Art Installation for Airport


            The Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission moved Tuesday to progress a large art project contract to city council for the Sky Harbor International Airport with a maximum $920,000.

            Members Rachel Johnson and Ed Lebow presented plans for the art project to go in the east terminal.  The commission was asked to approve the fabrication and installation costs that would come out of the $1.4 million arts budget for next year.

            The artwork would become a landmark of the airport, a giant pair of aviator sunglasses mounted on the atrium wall, said Lebow, Director of Public Art.

            Donald Lipski is the artist contracted for this installation, who was first funded for this project out of this year’s $1.6 million arts budget.  The idea was to conflate the classic aviator goggles, once used to shield oil splatter from the engines, with the current “selfie urge,” said Lebow. 

            The “Aviators” is planned to be fixed on the wall in the east terminal and tilted

downward, to “reflect as much of the terminal as possible,” Lebow said.  The lenses should be nine feet in diameter and the frames about 30 feet across, and will could be seen from “more than a football field and a half” away, making it visible from afar and a memorable fixture of the airport.

            The lenses will be chrome-plated fiberglass and the rims stainless steel, a relatively light structure which will jut about two feet from the wall without “compromising the structure,” Lebow said.

            “Aviators” is planned to be mounted on a wide LED screen or projection that will look as though the “sky itself was changing,” he said.  Sensors will act upon the background to correspond with the present appearance of the sky.

            For those just arriving to the Valley of the Sun, “what’s better than a pair of sunglasses,” said member Keith Preston.  “This could be very cool.”

            Johnson said this is one of 31 projects currently underway at the airport, and one of four major installations.

            The city council will vote on the approval of this contract on June 28.


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