Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Phoenix Sky Harbor airport celebrates 30 years of airport art

Tiger – by Esmerelda DeLaney – courtesy Phoenix Sky Harbor

One amenity much appreciated at airports is art.

And Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has had a top-notch art program for years.

 The program began in 1962 when the mural, The Phoenix, was commissioned for the new Terminal 2.  As the airport expanded, construction was designed with art in mind and in 1988 a full-blown airport art program was established.

Now the Phoenix Airport Museum has more than 900 works in its permanent collection, an extensive aviation archive and more than 40 exhibition spaces.

And this year the museum is celebrating its three-decade anniversary with an exhibition featuring 30 diverse works of art in varying media from the airport’s collection.

Flight – by Helen Burbank. Courtesy Phoenix Sky Harbor

30 Years -30 Artworks is on display at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in two spaces at Terminal 4 on level 3. Eight large display cases on the east and west ends are on display through January 9, 2019. The exhibition continues into the Phoenix Airport Museum’s gallery through June 9, 2019.

Steampunk exhibit at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

PHX_Steampunk_given

Diana Given, Personal Chronoaetheric Device (PCD Wrist Sleeve), Courtesy PHX Airport

A new exhibit at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) features six display cases filled with steampunk creations that combine science fiction, history and art.

PHX_Steampunk_hat

Chris Kurtz & Tim Holt, Gentleman’s Hat with Protective Goggles

On display are about 50 different objects, including “period-looking costumes complete with top hats or bustles, and fanciful gadgets created from random bits and bobs” as well as a navigator outfit for an airship equipped with a windsock, compass and a hand-crafted leather backpack.

Sound intriguing? Steampunk: An Exquisite Adventure is on display through May 10, 2015 on Level 2 of Terminal 3 at PHX Airport.

PHX_Steampunk gallery

Fresh art at Miami, St. Louis and Phoenix airports

This month my At the Airport column on USATODAY.com features a round-up of fresh art at airports around the country. I posted a few examples here yesterday. Here are some more.

(Photo by Rodney Cammauf)

Travelers can get a dose of the Everglades the only place where alligators and crocodiles co-exist in the wild at Miami International Airport, which is displaying 26 large-format photographs featuring the reserve’s wildlife and lush landscapes. The photos were taken by a half-dozen photographers who had the opportunity to live and work in the park’s subtropical environment for a month as part of the Everglades National Park’s Artist-in-Residence program.n You’ll find these in the international arrivals corridor in the North Terminal through December, 2011.

Lauren Adams: Coverlet Abstraction

Plenty of site-specific art will be part of the $50 million in renovations taking place at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport’s historic Terminal 1. Among the first commissioned pieces to be installed will be art glass screens with work by nine local artists featuring images that include eagles, soaring clouds, historic quilt patterns, local river paths and other images. Four art glass screens are being installed this month; five more screens will be installed this summer in Terminal 1.

"Spice Monkey"

Robert Brubaker’s ceramic, anthropomorphic animals are featured in a current exhibit at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Terminal 3. Although the local weather rarely calls for such warm clothing, the birds, ram, monkey and other animals featured in Big Coats are wrapped in ceramic versions of brightly colored, woolen Western-style blanket coats.

America’s got talent -at the airport

Milwaukee Airport_ Daniel Meek

Daneil Meek: TSA officer AND bagpiper

An artist, a baker and a bagpiper walk into an airport.

Is that the first line of a bad joke?

It could be. But it’s also a sampling of the hidden talents pursued by people who work at some of the nation’s airports. In some cases, only their colleagues reap the benefits, but from impromptu concerts to employee art shows, fliers across the country may encounter some fun and diversion in the midst of a stressful travel day.

Here’s the story I wrote about these talented airport workers for my At the Airport column in USATODAY.com.

When he’s not training for swim meets, Daniel Meek (above), the TSA administrative officer at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport, plays the bagpipes (yes, in a traditional Scottish kilt) at events ranging from funerals to local, regional and national law enforcement ceremonies. “A group of TSOs [Transportation Security Officers] are going to ride motorcycles to the 9/11 ten-year anniversary ceremonies in Washington DC, and I’m going to join them with my bagpipes,” said Meek.

Special events at Los Angeles International Airport now often include a few tunes by a chorus of surprisingly sweet-voiced TSA employees. “Our goal is to put the human face of the TSA in the public. Not just the ‘Take off your shoes’ image,” LAX Terminal Screening Manager Raul Matute told me back in December as the group readied for holiday performances in several terminals.

LAX TSA CHOIR

LAX TSA CHOIR

At Denver International Airport, the contract manager can sing opera, the CFO plays trumpet, a member of the custodial staff leads an in-demand mariachi band and one of the customer service volunteers is a magician. “Maybe we should start a band or hold a variety show in the terminals each Friday,” said airport spokesperson Jenny Schiavone.

No joking around. Well, sometimes.

Don Steinmetz is a veteran Phoenix police sergeant assigned to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where he supervises explosive-detection dogs and their police partners. “At the airport, our job is to deter, detect and keep people safe,” says Steinmetz. Outside the airport, Steinmetz performs on the stand-up comedy circuit, where his job is to make people laugh. “At the airport there are thousands of people and so many diverse situations. So there are plenty of hilarious things I can talk about from a police officer’s point of view.”

Kelly McCarron, a JetBlue employee at San Francisco International Airport, also moonlights as a stand-up comic. She interacts with the public at ticket-counters and gates all day but, unlike Steinmetz, doesn’t put many work stories into her act. “People in the audience have usually been on the other side of the airport interaction and I’m usually in the role of the bad guy. So it’s hard to get them on my side.”

On the serious side, Debbie Ramirez, spends her days marketing and promoting Phoenix Sky Harbor. But in her spare time, she and her horses are on-call for the posse that helps with search and rescue efforts for the Maricopa County sheriff’s office. “People go out hiking in the mountains and get lost or in trouble,” says Ramirez. “We’ve rescued a lot of people, but sometimes we can only help families find closure.”

Aerobatics and other art

When he’s not on the job, Mark Leutwiler, the Security Operations Manager at Portland International Airport (PDX) can be found up in the air practicing aerobatic art. “When I was young I went flying with someone and we went upside down. That’s when I realized that’s what I want to do. Now I fly loops and rolls and spins as much as possible.”

One of Leutwiler’s co-workers, Pauline Nelson, oversees security access for much of the terminal building and de-stresses by cooking, baking and building decorated cakes. She’s taken first prize at the Oregon State Fair numerous times, but it may be her co-workers who reap the rewards. “Basically, there aren’t enough people in my household to eat all the things I cook,” said Nelson, “So I bring things to work all the time.”

Reno-Tahoe International Airport hosts an annual Employee Art Show and this year the exhibit featured about 100 paintings, works on paper, photos, sculptures, crafts and mixed media entries by 59 airport employees and their family members. Similar art shows, supported by the National Arts Program are held regularly at airports in Orlando, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Dallas-Fort Worth.

And while Boston Logan International Airport has an official photographer, airport spokesman Richard Walsh calls landside operations manager Rudy Chiarello “the airport’s official, unofficial photographer.” Chiarello has been a Massport employee for 35 years and has amassed thousands of photos, many of them of airplanes taken from out on the airfield. “I was one of those people who thought my pictures sucked,” said Chiarello, “But after 9/11, I wanted to promote aviation so I started uploading my pictures to airliners.net and got great responses. I never knew people would be so crazy about airline pictures.”

Then there’s Art Cozart, who has worked as a baggage handler for US Airways at Charlotte Douglas International Airport for the past 29 years. “About ten years ago I had coffee in the break room and drew a picture on the Styrofoam cup with a pen,” said Cozart, whose art training consists of a ‘filler’ class he took during his senior year of high school. Cozart kept doodling and now estimates he’s covered about 1000 Styrofoam cups with his artwork.

In October 2010, a selection of Cozart’s cups were displayed during the grand opening of Charlotte’s Mint Museum UPTOWN and now there’s a website featuring his creations. Mostly, though, Cozart says he just draws cups for friends and family and gives them away. “I’ve done animals, boats, airports, landscapes and people, including Marilyn Monroe, The Munsters, Dale Earnhardt, and Laurel and Hardy.” As for his choice of medium? Cozart explains, “I can draw on paper if I have to, but this helps keep cups out of the landfill.”

Cactus League at PHX airport

PHX Ernie Banks

Chicago Cubs’ player Ernie Banks checking out the spring training exhibition game schedule at Rendezvous Park, Mesa, 1950s Courtesy of Tim Sheriden, Mesa Historical Museum

A new exhibition at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport celebrates the fifteen major league baseball teams that head to Arizona each year for spring training as part of the Cactus League.

Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience includes original Mickey Mantle and Ernie Banks baseball cards, photographs, signed baseballs, paintings and other cool baseball memorabilia. Look for the display in the Terminal 4, Level 3 gallery through September 11, 2011.

Here’s a preview:

PHX Cactus Legue Exhibit

Young baseball fans getting their gloves autographed by a Baltimore Orioles’ player, 1950s.
The Orioles trained in Arizona at Panther Field in Yuma in1954 and Scottsdale Stadium I from1956 through 1958.
Courtesy of Mesa Historical Museum

PHX Cactus League Exhibit


The Boston Red Sox were welcomed in Arizona at Scottsdale Stadium I by the Sheriff’s Posse.  Ted Williams is on the far right. Courtesy of Mesa Historical Museum

PHX Yankees at Spring Training

The New York Yankees team wearing cowboy hats at the “old” Phoenix Municipal Stadium, 1951. Courtesy of Mesa Historical Museum.

Batter up!