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Public art installation by Melissa Martinez in City of Tempe

24 March . 2020

Home is Where the Art Is

The privilege of owning valuable art is all too often reserved for the rich and famous, but at Alamar, every resident of the master-planned community is a collector. Just walk down the street to your neighborhood park to glimpse a one-of-a-kind sculpture by one of Arizona’s greatest living artists. A few blocks away, stride past another work of art—this one using the sidewalk as a canvas. Keep exploring all 1,130 acres of Alamar and you’ll find an entire collection of museum-worthy art, some works doubling as interactive play spaces, others built cleverly into the natural landscapes, and all of them created specifically for you and your family.

It’s all part of the Alamar Art Program, an initiative that isn’t confined to any museum or library—instead, it’s right outside your front door, adding moments of joy and inspiration to your everyday, educating the kids, and beautifying every neighborhood. And it’s something Arizona—maybe even the United States—has never seen before, according to Greg Esser, the program’s curator. “This is the first program of this scale,” he says. “It’s an unprecedented investment on the part of Brookfield Properties to commission artworks that are holistically designed into the community. It sets a new bar for residential communities.”

Esser should know. The 30-year art veteran has helped some of the greatest artists of today find public forums for their works, taking them beyond the walls of museums and sharing them with the world outside, in parks, libraries, and even firehouses and freeways, from Colorado to California. And now, Esser, along with Brookfield Properties, is bringing more than 25 commissioned artworks to the residents of Alamar.

The program works like an art version of The Voice: Artists are invited to apply to submit concepts for new sculptures, installations, or other pieces for the community, and a panel of “judges” selects the winners to create them specifically for Alamar’s parks and outdoor spaces. Inspired by the community’s Sonoran Desert location, along with its agrarian heritage and familial spirit, the artworks will be life-size interpretations of Alamar’s unique spirit. “All of the artists are very honored to be working as part of this team,” Esser adds.

The first set of artworks—seven in total—will be on display across five Neighborhood Parks when Alamar launches its first phase this summer. Ultimately, Esser, says, a total of 25 to 30 pieces of art across the entire community will create an “art journey,” where families can explore all of them in one pilgrimage or encounter them one by one in their day-to-day activities.

It’s all part of Brookfield Properties’ commitment to delivering more than just homes in Alamar’s thoughtfully planned neighborhoods. “Our vision is to create communities—not just subdivisions,” says Dea McDonald, Brookfield’s Vice President and General Manager. “With the Alamar Art Program, we want to work with schools and document the art process, engage the children and help them become involved, and bring people in the community together to appreciate and contribute to the City of Avondale.” At Alamar’s K–8 school, the Alamar Art Program will further educate students with a video exploring each of the works and the process behind their creation, encouraging understanding and appreciation not only for art, but also for the community in which they live.

“I think that recognizing that you live next to a commissioned piece of art that someone has thought about and hand-made for the place you live signals that there is a care and a sense of place that you don’t find in a lot of residential communities,” Esser says. “This program will create a growing sense of connection and shared community— and above all, a better quality of life.” Because life, after all, imitates art.