New art installation at Phoenix skate park will draw inspiration from 1970s skate spots

Children playing at Solano Park Skate Plaza in Phoenix (City of Phoenix Photo)

By Sarah Musungayi

November 6, 2023

The new art installation not only pays homage to the past but also caters to the technical needs and safety requirements of modern skateboarders.

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture has commissioned new artwork for the
skate park in central Phoenix’s Solano Park that mixes nostalgia for historical skate parks of the past with the needs of modern skateboarders.

Seattle-based artists Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan of Haddad|Drugan are the designers for
the art installation for Solano Park Skate Plaza, which is located at North 17th Avenue and West Montebello Avenue.

Solano Park Skate Plaza in Phoenix (City of Phoenix Photo)

Haddad and Drugan were inspired by historic skateboarding spots in the region from the 1970s, including the iconic Desert Pipes, which were pipes built for the Central Arizona Project throughout Phoenix. A common theme that they found
was that the skateparks were receptacles for moving or holding water (water pipes, canals,
pools, etc.).

This inspired the look that they wanted to achieve for the installation, which is scheduled to begin in winter of 2024.

The new artwork called Pipe Dreams will be made up of three freestanding steel pipes, each 16
inches in diameter and varying in width.

“The 4-inch and 8-inch pipes are completely open and can be skateboarded,” Haddad said.
“The center pipe is 6 inches wide and is not intended for skateboarding. It is designed as a
hangout zone.”

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The art structure will include a seating-height flat platform along the width of the pipe with a top
surface of pool tiles (a nod to early pools that were skateboarded, in particular Dead Cat Pool,
another 1970s spot) that will act as a bench, lounge, and place to stash a backpack or water
bottle. The steel plate forming this central pipe will be perforated and then painted with a cooling
water pattern inspired by the water theme of the early skateboard spots.

To create a space that truly resonates with the local skateboarding community, Haddad and
Drugan conducted in-depth research. “The artists met one-on-one with community members
and skaters and a community meeting was held, during which feedback was gathered and
integrated into the public art design,” said Carrie Brown, the deputy director of the Phoenix
Office of Arts and Culture.

Haddad and Drugan visited contemporary Phoenix skate parks and engaged in multiple
discussions with local skateboarding experts. This collaborative effort ensured that the new art
installation not only pays homage to the past but also caters to the technical needs and safety
requirements of modern skateboarders.

Haddad said, “We hope that the artwork will be a point of pride for the skateboard community
and that it may cause some people to dig a little deeper into Phoenix skateboarding history …
We also hope that the skateboard community will treat the artwork with respect and understand
that it is a custom, hand-made piece and should be treated with care.”

To stay up to date on this and other projects, visit the Phoenix Arts + Culture webpage and follow their social media via Facebook and Instagram.

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