Scottsdale Arts Culture: More than Meets the Eye

Chernhoff_Betsy CropBy Betsy Chernoff

Class 30 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

If you were to have asked me before we started our Arts Day, “Does Scottsdale (or Arizona for that matter) have any artistic culture?” I would have easily responded with, “You mean, Wild West culture, right?” This is even coming from a Scottsdale native. So, sadly, I think this is often what most people think of when they hear “art, culture and Scottsdale,” all in the same sentence.IMG_3623

Scottsdale Leadership Class XXX got a rare opportunity to see just how diverse our arts culture truly is. To start our day, we were lucky enough to have Ocotillo (Cindy & Ro bert Leger) serenade us with everything from classical music to the Beatles.  They also took the time to answer any questions that we had, either about them or their musical aptitude. As they answered our questions, it was amazing to see just how passionate they were about music and how differently they developed that passion. Cindy came from a line of musical talent and she studied music. Robert was self-taught and came from a journalistic background. Regardless of their differences, both had a love for their music that was as easy to hear, as it was to see.

As we moved through our day, we got to listen to a panel speak about arts in Scottsdale and some of the debate that goes on. Our Moderator Robert Ledger led our panelists: Rusty Foley, Marcy Warner, Councilmember Kathy Littlefield and Lynn Trimble through difficult topics that our arts’ community is facing, like arts and their role in our children’s education.  It was clear, that every single person on this panel was fiercely dedicated to the arts and their role in our community.

Next we had the opportunity to see a live dance performance from Pilabolus. I must admit, dancing isn’t necessarily my favorite form of art, but this group immediately removed my apprehensions and made me an instant fan! Their dances got the entire crowd thinking, enjoying and feeling emotions, all from shaking their tale feathers. It was most certainly a site to enjoy and to watch.

IMG_3625Our final activity (and the one I most looked forward to) centered on Cosanti and the Poalo Soleri studio tour.  Seeing his artwork and understanding the man behind the ideas was a phenomenal treat for me. I’ve long been an admirer of his work, so this tour had a very special place in my heart. Getting the opportunity to learn about his residence and how he constructed the different, circular concrete structures, bells and other pieces of artwork were unbelievably fascinating. Getting the experience to see his work, his office and his personal swimming pool was also a unique experience that I will treasure. While I had some experience with Arcosanti before this visit, I quickly learned that Paolo had many unique ideas, and that Arcosanti was merely one of them. His belief in arcology (architecture and ecology) will continue to live on, thanks in part to Cosanti’s continuation of his bells.

Our day experiencing some of what Scottsdale has to offer us in art was educational, fun and beautiful. The opportunity to ask questions, dive further into the experiences and understand how our community plays a part in the continuation of arts in Scottsdale was something that the whole class seemed to take with them as the left for the day. It was truly something to be in awe of.


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