Dark skies, free pins & a giant flamingo

A Big Bird for Tampa International Airport

A flamingo sculpture by Matthew Mazzotta depicting a flamingo gently dipping its head beneath the surface of the water is being installed in the center of rhe main terminal at Tampa International Airport. (TPA).

Don’t worry – you can’t miss it. The sculpure is pink, 21-feet tall, and its giant head, neck, beak, and legs are already in place near The Shoppes at Bayshore. The sculpture is expected to be completed over the next few weeks.

LAX, other airports turn off light for Earth Hour

Saturday, March 25, cities, attractions, hotels, and airports around the country marked Earth Hour by turning off non-essential electric lights, for one hour.

Get pinned at PHL Airport

PHL Airport is celebrating the restart of international flights to several destinations this week by handing out collectible pins to mark the day.

We’re trying to figure out how to book those flights so we can nab some pins…

Spring has sprung – in art – at PHX Airport

The newest exhibition at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) offers an artistic look at the wide variety of plant and animal life in Arizona and the Sonoran Desert with work by 21 artists.

The diverse selection of artworks, all from the Phoenix Airport Museum’s own collection, includes a realistic bronze tortoise family, an embroidered and appliqued art chair with butterflies and flowers, and large vibrant paintings of cactus blooms – to name a few.

Persistent Plants and Desert Dwellers is in Phoenix Sky Harbor’s Terminal 3, on level 4, and is an inviting and colorful respite, especially for travelers from colder climates who will appreciate the sunshiny images.

Travelers can visit the exhibition in the post-security gallery while airport visitors without a flight ticket can see a sampling of works near the PHX Sky Train® portal through August 2022.

Memphis Airport apologizes to artist

In mid-February, Memphis artist Tommy Kha shared an Instagram post celebrating the fact that one of his pieces was included among the artwork installed at Memphis International Airport as part of the newly reopened Concourse B.

“Termin[inal]s of Endearment,” the Asian American artist and Elvis fan wrote, “still kinda stunned to be part of this collection…”

The artwork, a self-portrait depicting the artist dressed as Memphis icon Elvis Presley, was one of 61 new art pieces Memphis pubic art non-profit UrbanArt Commission helped choose for the new terminal.

But at the beginning of this week, Kha was back on social media. This time sharing a photo of the empty wall at the airport where the artwork had been.

“Apologies to those who wished to see this piece: it is no longer on display,” he wrote. “After some disturbing complaints about my work, it was decided, and without my knowledge, the pictures were removed.”

Why was it removed?

In a statement shared with local media, airport president and CEO Scott Brockman said that after receiving “a lot of negative feedback” from Elvis fans, and a “small number” of complaints that referred to Kha’s race (and which MEM officials said were “completely inappropriate,”) the airport had decided to temporarily remove the piece.

“When the airport created its art program, our goal was to purchase and display artwork that did not include public figures or celebrities,” Brockman said in his statement. “Our selection committee made an exception in the case of Tommy Kha’s piece and recommended its purchase.”

As you may imagine, the decision to remove the piece didn’t sit well with art fans and many members of the community. Nor with the Urban Art Commission, which said on social media that it had worked with the airport authority and selection committee to curate “an art program that speaks to a diverse and authentic creative community representative of Memphis.”

“We are opposed to Tommy Kha’s installation being removed from display, especially considering the openly racist comments made online in the development of this situation,” the group added.

Good news: the airport authority listened and will reinstall Kha’s work

Constellations VIII by Tommy Kha

In a “doing the right thing” move, the airport has quickly decided to apologize to the artist and reintall the artwork.

Here’s the statement – and apology – from Memphis airport authority President and CEO Scott Brockman:

Over the past 24 hours, we have heard from many in our community regarding the temporary removal of Tommy Kha’s artwork in the new concourse. The Airport Authority appreciates the support that the community has shown for Tommy and we have made the decision to reinstall the artwork. We apologize to Tommy for the effect that this ordeal has had on him.

As stated yesterday, when the airport created its art program, our goal was to purchase and display artwork that did not include public figures or celebrities but made an exception in this case.

The Airport Authority will continue to emphasize local artists, diversity, and inclusion with this art program, and we will explore additional best practices to address how we handle complaints and public feedback about our artwork.

Right move.

Pitchfork has more on this story, along with some comments from Kha.

Fresh art at LAX Airport

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has three new art exhibitions to look for next time you pass through.

Presented in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the exhibits feature works by two solo artists and one group exhibition. The artwork includes large-scale printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, painting, and multi-media artworks across three terminals.

Out of the Blue is a group exhibition of paintings, ceramics, and mixed-media works. Look for this in the Terminal 7 art gallery adjacent to the security screening area. (Ticketed passengers only)

Your Body is a Space That Sees by Los Angeles artist Lia Halloran is accessible to ticketed passengers in Terminal 1 at Gate 9. The images combine ink and light to celebrate women’s contributions to astronomy.

The large-scale cyanotype prints source historical imagery from a group of Harvard women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when views of the night sky were captured in photographic emulsion on glass plates.

“This body of work is really meant to honor the invaluable work that female astronomers contributed to their field,” Halloran says. “Without these discoveries, we would be nowhere near where we are now in terms of being able to measure and understand the universe.” 

“Tumbleweeds,” by Pontus Willfors, is a site-specifi­c installation featuring hand-crafted, botanical sculptures manipulated from wood. The sculptures are inspired by tumbleweeds found in the Mojave Desert, which extends into the northeastern part of Los Angeles County. Look for this work in the Tom Bradley International Terminal customs hallway.


LAX also has a fun Selfie Guided Tour of community art located in the pre-screening areas of Terminals 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7.

Start at the Theme Building, located in the center of the Central Terminal Area, and walk the mile-route to view all nine pieces of art. The artwork is displayed on large walls and creates an opportunity to snap selfiez to share on social media using #LAXSelfieGuidedTour. 

Photos by SKA Studios LLC., courtesy of Los Angeles World Airports and City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.