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Artwork by ASU graduates to be featured at Sky Harbor Airport

Two ASU graduates are among 42 artists whose work will be purchased for the Phoenix Airport Museum

The air traffic control tower at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport  is pictured on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016.
The air traffic control tower at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is pictured on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016.

The Phoenix Airport Museum will receive new artworks, two of which were created by ASU graduates after the Phoenix City Council gave the final approval on Feb. 1.

By approving the request, the Council authorized the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture to enter into contracts with 42 pre-selected artists. Upon completion, the art will be purchased and delivered to the Phoenix Airport Museum at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. 

According to the Museum's website, its mission is to "enhance the Airport visitor's experience by creating a memorable environment that promotes Arizona’s unique artistic and cultural heritage."

The museum has exhibits in Terminals 3 and 4, as well as in the Rental Car Center. The budget for the art is not to exceed $289,400, according to the Phoenix Council meeting agenda.

The council-approved measure, The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Percent-for-Art Collections Project, is one of 39 outlined in the office's Fiscal Year 2022-27 Art Plan

The Council initially approved the plan in June 2022. Carrie Brown, deputy director of the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, said the project is just the latest collaboration between her office and the departments focused on the airport and aviation. 

Gary Martelli, director of the Phoenix Airport Museum, who was also on the panel that approved the artwork, said the new pieces would enhance the current collection at the airport museum.

“We haven’t purchased artworks in a number of years, so it’s nice to have some contemporary works and a nice diverse variety of material," Martelli said. 

The city closed its "Call to Artist" request in April 2022, and a selection committee chose 44 finalists in October. Martelli confirmed that two artists were dropped from the selection because their work had already been sold, narrowing down the pool to 42.

As for the chosen artists, two of them are ASU graduates.

Bill Dambrova graduated from ASU in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in studio art. He specializes in large-scale paintings, usually themed on hidden biological worlds. 

“Having the airport actually pay for a piece is a big deal,” Dambrova said. “It’s not one of those things that happens all the time. I mean, we can sell to clients out of our studios and stuff, but for an institution to pick your work — that’s a pretty big deal.” 

The City of Phoenix paid $10,000 for Dambrova’s piece, “You Have a Great Body May I Use It?

Mary Shindell is another ASU graduate whose artwork was selected. Shindell said she graduated in the late 1970s with a master’s degree in fine arts. Today, she specializes in drawing-based art. 

“I was really happy,” Shindell said. “I like the airport a lot because of the amount of activity that’s there — the number of people that flow through there — it’s a really good space to show artwork.

The city paid $2,500 for Shindell’s piece, “Inflection Point II: Variant II: Pluto, Grand Canyon." 

“I had shown artwork there at other times just through the airport art museum as a temporary show, and I always got really good feedback from people passing through,” Shindell said. 

Edited by Andrew Onodera, Jasmine Kabiri and Luke Chatham.

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