Arizona scenery, art, weather


Arizona scenery, art, weather have been quite impressive over the last few weeks. In the three years total that I have lived here on and off since 2011, I have never seen clouds (at all) in August. Instead of the oppressive monotony of all blue sky all the time, there have been huge cloud banks of the Cumulonimbus variety gathering over the Superstition Mountains and Four Peaks to the East, and over the McDowell Mountains to the North, and over South Mtn. and the Casa Grande area, creating rain, lightning, wind, and dust storms. Here is dust storm moving in from the south toward Tempe/A Mtn. You can see the solar panels on the parking structure to the left foreground, and Tempe Mission Palms Hotel with the red roof to the right.


Tempe was the epicenter of a micro-burst of wind and dust and debris last week (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) destroying many trees on the ASU campus, and causing a power outage. The Lo Piano area across Tempe Town Lake, including the former TB hospital and O’Connor House also got blasted.


On Labor Day Sept. 7, this is what it looked like at 6:30 am at Papago Rocks Park, a local formation of red buttes like a mini-Sedona, in far Phoenix. At the the iconic AZ sunbeams thru clouds (emblem on the state flag). Indeed it was cloudy all day, and only in the high 90’s.

IMG_0425[1]  IMG_0420[1]  IMG_0417[1]

Papago was the original proposed site by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Arizona State capital grounds and Phoenix city center. PHX and AZ said no thanks, too ambitious, but there are many post-modern and mid-century bold buildings (like TCPA) in the area. And of course Taliesen West.


FLW took his ‘Oasis’ design to California, where it was adapted to create the Marin County government center. You can see the desert colors and shapes in the turquoise and arches.

marin-county-civic-center     marin_2

Later on Labor day, it was a  good day to feed the neighborhood pigs, Princess and Precious, in the alley off Roosevelt Street, in Tempe. Here they are feasting on donated watermelons, which they loved!

IMG_0360[1] Princess     IMG_0370[1]  Precious

They live near Clark Park where there is also a community garden. On Saturday we cleaned up a few of the longer beds, including pulling up Sweet Potato vine, and planting seed squash and gourds. There used to be a public swimming pool at the site, but now it is a fully functional urban farm and garden, supplying crops to the Tempe Community Action Council (homeless).

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This is dawn near Tempe Center for the Performing Arts, and the pedestrian bridge across Tempe Town Lake. The devotion to walking and biking, and access to water, are evident here in this structure with its infinity pool style fountain — a sheet of ever flowing water that borders the whole lake side of the TCPA — connecting the building’s water to the reservoir’s surface.

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Below are some linoleum ink prints by artist Andy Chuka, on display at the PHX Sky Harbor Airport Rental Car Center ‘museum’ — yes, they have a whole separate building away from the terminals just for rental car reservations and pick up.

IMG_0404[1]   IMG_0402[1]  IMG_0406[1]  — it is a good example of how much planning and infrastructure are valued here in the Phoenix area — and how much is invested in public art. Andy Chuka does not have a Wikipedia page, but it seems he was active in the 1950-60’s — his art has a mid-century, western appeal. He is the Arizona equivalent of Gwen Frostic prints in Northern Michigan! Primitive but sophisticated at the same time.

gwen frostic

Chuka is the opposite of Robert McCall


McCall’s art is massive, oil on canvas, and is based on aerospace or Utopian future fantasy. One of his paintings hangs in the foyer of one of the Mayo Clinic (Scottsdale) offices. (This is not it but you get the idea — really far out cool).

mccall 2

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