The international art world, Arizona artists and the local community will intersect for ten days of free entertainment, interaction and inspiration this month when Canal Convergence returns to the Scottsdale Waterfront for its seventh year.

Since its inception, the event has won many awards, the most recent being the Gold Grand Pinnacle Award, for last year’s event from the International Festival and Events Association (IFEA).

But the event didn’t originally set out to create a community of innovative contemporary artists from across the state and country.

“Canal Convergence was born through the collaboration between Scottsdale Public Art, the City of Scottsdale and SRP. The original vision for the event was to create a free, entertaining public art event that could also educate the public about SRP’s history, water management and conservation,” explains Jennifer Gill, public art manager for Canal Convergence. 

The event started as “Night Lights” in 2008. After the Soleri Bridge and Plaza was complete in 2011, the first Canal Convergence was held in 2012. It has grown each year since. In its first year it grossed 5,670 attendees. Last year’s event welcomed 270,000.

“We have a variety of programming this year. On the weekends, we have multiple workshops with both the artists of Canal Convergence and local and national artists and educators with unique, hands-on activities,” says Gill.

One unique performance this year will be offered by “laser artist” Mike Gould. 

“The fancier term I sometimes use is interactive, kinetic, neo-optic art,” he explains. 

Although he’s based in Michigan, Gould’s creations have been displayed across the country. He won four ILDA awards (International Laser Display Association), which he describes as “the Grammys” of his industry.

But his lasers aren’t the same lights used to annoy pets and create obstacles in elaborate jewel heists. 

“When you say laser light show, most people think beams shooting out over rock bands,” Gould says. He explains that these beams have two siblings in the laser family, “images” and “Lumia.” Gould experiments with Lumia. 

“Lumia is very wispy, contemplative and slowly-moving. It’s sort of like animated smoke,” he says. Gould started experimenting with lasers in the 1960s when he would host light shows for his friends and “have a good ol’ time.”

Gould started working with Wayne Gillis, his partner-in-art, in 1972. Gould acts as the designer and Gillis works in the technical aspects of configuring the electronics.

Gould promises that what he’s bringing to Scottsdale “will be something totally new that most people haven’t seen before.”  

Artists with impressive accolades make up a major piece of Canal Convergence. Bridging the local art community into the bigger conversation is another crucial goal of this event and why it is so popular. 

“For the local art community, it offers the opportunity for Arizona artists to showcase their talents on an internationally recognized scale, and be inspired by the amazing artworks of national and international artists,” says Gill. 

“I really love the workshop aspect. People are signing up because they want to be there, or they’re coming to the event because they want to be there,” explains Amanda McGlothern, a visual arts teacher at Tempe High School. She worked as art educator for last year’s event and will host two interactive art workshops this year.

“Sometimes art can be intimidating but in settings like this it’s very friendly to all abilities and levels and ages.”

“We like to encourage artists to not do what is easy, but instead what is unique, groundbreaking, and worth the blood, sweat and tears,” says Gill. 

Gould will also host an all-ages “do-it-yourself laser light show,” where participants can build and take home their own “laser lumium.” He will also present at Arcadia High on November 12 for a talk and demonstration on laser light shows. He hopes to inspire “the next generation of laser artists.”

McGlothern wants to change the misconception that art must be done “in one way.” She will be hosting a Gyotaku printing class. 

“Gyotaku is the ancient art form of printing fish, coming from Japanese fishermen in the mid-1800s,” she explains. “Which has become its own art form since its humble origins and was originally a documentation of fish. They’d catch the fish and since they couldn’t take a picture of it, they’d print it.” 

Along with the art installations, there will be new performers, including a new local dance company and an improv comedy group. Scottsdale Water and its cutting-edge recycled water treatment will present the One Water Brewing Showcase, where local brewers will use Scottsdale’s recycled water to brew beers for consumption at Canal Convergence.

This event, which runs Nov. 8-17, has become a meeting place for all types of people, engaging with one another in a way that pushes forward the contemporary art world, the Arizona art scene, the neighborhoods of Phoenix and Scottsdale and the ideas of creativity and community. 


November 8-17


Scottsdale Waterfront

7135 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale