Downtown Scottsdale these days is an outdoor Southwestern art gallery and museum, with more than 50 spectacular public art pieces installed through the Scottsdale Public Art Program. You can wander on your own or take a self-guided 60-minute audio walking tour that passes by significant installations such as the dazzling Soleri Bridge on the downtown waterfront and the kaleidoscopic mirrored panels of Donald Lipski’s “The Doors.”
Dramatic Western equestrian bronze sculptures,
elaborate fountains and various interactive structures draw you from site to
site. Led by a woman who may be the city's top tour guide, Ace Bailey, the
free, two hour Localmotion Cultural Tour, by trolley, starts at 10:30 a.m.
on the second Saturday of every month; reservations are required. This an
easy ramble to scenic and historic sights from the Old Adobe Mission church to
the multi-faceted gallery (more than a hundred) and outdoor art district; to
myriad art installations in the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall and the iconic,
'50s-style Hotel Valley Ho.
A long-time resident and art/culture expert, Ace also offers a variety of private and group art, architecture and Native American tours through her company, Ultimate Art & Cultural Tours. She has insider connections with artisans, historians and other local luminaries who have known and loved her for years, and go out of their way to meet with her clients. One of my favorite experiences with Ace is when she took a few of us to meet the doyenne of Cattle Track Art Compound, Janie Ellis, who spun tales of family life on the historic ranch, which was established on the outskirts of Scottsdale in the 1930s, and is open to public for tours. On the National Register of Historic Places, Cattle Track is a gathering of vibrant workshops inhabited by architects, printmakers, a blacksmith,a jeweler, and a ceramist, among others. The ranch has a long and glorious history of resident artists such as Fritz Scholder, world-famous for his Native American paintings, and the abstract expressionist Louise Nevelson.
At his Expressions Gallery in the arts district, we also met with Dave McGary, whose monumental Native American images in bronze are in the Smithsonian and the White House and throughout the west in state capitol buildings, museums and other public places.
The beat goes on: Ace also organizes private tours for groups of up to 25 people and can set up workshops in printing, glass making and other crafts.
A cultural tour curator, Karen Misuraca is the author of several guidebooks, including Backroads of the California Wine Country; Backroads of the California Coast, and Fun with the Family Northern California. Check out Karen's newly updated iPhone app, California Coast North.