Thursday, November 18, 2010

Milagro on 31st Ave

The Milagro Pole

Another pole in the series (not so milagroso though) (how poignant if this is leftover from the streetcar era)

In the previous post, I rode down 31st Ave from the Phoenix Water Treatment plant up by the Arizona Canal. The changes and transitions I passed through from the plant down to Camelback Road are too numerous to summarize thoroughly in one post. Just before I arrived at the Little Canyon Path, though, I noticed that odd looking pole at the top of this post. Had to be art. No idea at the time what it was though: "official" art project? Neighborhood project? Those darned kids at it again? I didn't see a sign or plaque, so I snapped a couple of pics and continued on down the street to my primary destination.

Once I got back home, I found out with my "I feel lucky" search precision, first search, first result,  that my guesses about the pole were all correct! It's actually part of something called the "Cordova Gardens Median Enhancement Project," which was spearheaded by artists Michael Dollin and Trude Parkinson, who worked with people from the neighborhood, as well as kids from Cordova Elementary School, from 1991-98 I think. Trude has a pdf on her site which describes the project in detail. (Trude's listed accomplishments include a documentary on the project, although it doesn't seem that is available online. It would be interesting to watch, I imagine).

I believe the median is actually the paved-over canal lateral (ditch, basically) that eventually becomes Little Canyon, so there is a direct connection here. If only there was some way for the ancient Hohokam powers that sizzle up and down this old drainage channel to pull some of this art-city-neighborhood creative cooperation coalition juice back upstream to that butt-ugly youth-despiriting wall across from the school on W. Dunlap Ave. It's a Water Treatment Plant! Hang some planters on that wall and grow extravagant imagination-firing constellations of flowers! Gabion! Rust! Globemallows! Yuccas and aloes! Do it! Take a look at the Scottsdale Chaparral Water Treatment Plant (very near a high school, by the way) and hang your heads in temporary but very undoable shame, Phoenix Water Treatment Plant designers/builders! 

I probably need to get back there to 31st Ave. and take some pics of the rest of the median. Like I said, I didn't really realize what I was looking at when I was there the first time. "Milagro" is Spanish for "miracle," and according to the document I linked above on Trude's site, the metal doodads stuck onto the Milagro Pole are reminiscent of the small, metal healing charms from Mexico called "milagros". 

To me, the glittery hunks of metal are reminiscent of The Borg ship from Star Trek. I suppose the interpretation of art has a lot to do with the predilections of the beholder. Some people probably see a bicycle up there. Get up. Go ride.

Evidence of a Borg Presence on Earth


  1. Is Arizona just stuffed full of cool metal sculpture, or are you just a totally obsessed metal freak?

    Don't get me wrong, I like it!

  2. PaddyAnne I just looked up and there it was. I love it when that happens.

    RANTWICK I am not prepared at this time to confirm or deny either assertion based on the available evidence. My plan is to continue two-wheeled investigations to narrow down which is the more dominant factor behind these postings. Since I recently found out that the Phoenix metro area has the same area (16K sq mi) as the Netherlands, that could require a lot of riding around.


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