Freeway Art

The original blog (posted on Aug. 12) disappeared while I was editing it. Here is the re-write.

The 17 freeway in Phoenix is an art gallery of sorts. We actually drove longer than we intended to, just to see the art on the exit ramps, around bridge abutments, and on the sound barriers along long, otherwise empty stretches.

cicle wallSome of the overpasses are encased in fencing, and the top is jagged, to match the mountains in the distance.

There are murals of big cactus plants, complete with red tile squares for flowers on the exit at Frank Lloyd Wright Road. There is a topographical gecko–green stucco with attached layers that give it a three dimensional look.prickly pear phoenix

There are geometric, repeating patterns on the walls–simple circles and lines, repeating incised patterns, triangles, wavy lines.

Why art on the freeway? Because art is public and meant to be enjoyed everywhere. Art inspires, calms, and often challenges. I’m sure there were a few council members who grumped at the cost. But it makes for a good impression of a Kollasch muralsprawling city, and it speeds up the time of the drive.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and artist, who recently returned from vacation in Phoenix. She recommends the freeway, particularly from 7th St. to the 101 South as good viewing. See her work at (c) 2007 All rights reserved. Images: circle on entrance ramp, Quinn McDonald. Mural: Kristine Kollasch, I-17 and 7th St., Phoenix. Cactus Mural: members.

4 thoughts on “Freeway Art

  1. I, too, love the freeway art in Scottsdale, AZ! Perhaps I am a little biased, because I live here, but the sight of this particular art makes me smile each and every time I drive on the 101. Bravo to the committee that approved the purchase! The Phoenix committee should have thought long and hard before approving what was installed and thankfully has subsequently disappeared. At any rate, you should have taken Shea Boulevard east from the 101 just to look at their bus stops. Beautiful! Scottsdale is a class act when it comes to their public art works.

  2. I appreciate the trend in cities that seem to be intent upon covering every square inch in concrete or housing! Austin Texas is doing this on their freeways, too, though mostly in textured concrete, and they need a lot more calming colors around to mellow their drivers.
    Oklahoma City is trying to increase the amount of wildflower areas and boulevard designs to include trees, and there is no art anywhere that can beat the sight of an entire roadside covered in Indian Paintbrush in full bloom, but I do appreciate the attempt to improve the view elsewhere!

  3. Pingback: Good Design in Plain Sight « QuinnCreative

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