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Fri, Oct. 18

Local art will soon grace Sky Harbor Airport entrance<BR>

Johnson creates bronze sculptures, ranging from desert animals to humans to pieces featuring both together, sharing the environment in which they live. Asay and Davis use pieces of the environment around the place where they will display their work to accentuate the natural beauty of their surroundings.

The City of Phoenix commissioned seven Arizona artists (Asay and Davis count as one, since they work together) to create artwork that will decorate a 360-foot-long, 11-foot-wide corridor which leads international travelers from Custom and Immigration to the non-secure section of Terminal 4.

Johnson said the art garden at Sky Harbor Airport is her first public work.

"I love that idea," she said, "because so many people are going to be able to see it. I love that feeling of getting to share it with lots of people."

And Asay and Davis are also excited about the permanence of the structures they will create, since most of their pieces are installation pieces. Asay and Davis "reveal" pieces of nature (like rocks, wood and earth) through their work.

"It's a process of simplification for the sake of revelation," Davis explained.

Asay added, "the point is to create a visual communication that directly communicates so the viewer is able to see nature in a fresh way."

Although many of their pieces are temporary, the airport piece – five 2-feet-wide by 8-feet-tall columns featuring rocks from the Salt River – will be permanent.

"It's definitely different," Davis said. "We're going to have to be very careful about how it's made, to keep it fresh and immediate."

Asay and Davis will sort the rocks they get from the Salt River (some they find at the river, others they buy) into five different colors and then clean them until they sparkle, before creating the concrete towers faced with the stone.

"We do just enough to them to let them speak for themselves," Davis said. "We cut the variables down to let the organic nature of the material itself be what people really focus on."

Davis added that, "we want to undermine people's preconception about seeing a whole lot of Salt River rock. You can see it real clearly if you take the time to stop and look."

While Johnson said she feels "a little bit validated" by Phoenix's commission of her work, she also added that she "has a long ways to go."

She has come a long way, however, from her first sculpture in grade school (it's a turtle that her mom has) to her latest commission. a gila monster, three desert tortoises (two parents and a baby), a pair of collared lizards and a Western diamondback rattlesnake she sculpted that will roam the art garden at Sky Harbor.

"I like desert animals a lot," she said. "Sculpting a lizard is like sculpting a figure. It's just skin and muscles."

Johnson said she is excited to "introduce international travelers to the magic of the desert.

"The plants are so unique," she said, explaining that a person won't see plants and animals native to Arizona anywhere else, and comparing the desert to an aquarium drained of water.

The Van Gogh's Ear Gallery, at 156 S. Montezuma St. in Prescott, currently displays art that all three artists sculpted.

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