Client: City of Surprise, Arizona
Location: Surprise, AZ, United States
Completion date: 2023
Artwork budget: $300,000
Brad Oldham Sculpture
Brad Oldham Sculpture
City of Surprise
The grandeur of the nearby White Tank Mountains along with the soulful rhythms of the expansive Sonoran Desert near the City of Surprise create a beautifully dissonant sensation that inspired artists Brad Oldham and Christy Coltrin to celebrate the environment and the people who define this city in a 20-foot tall cactus sculpture. “Bloom Where You’re Planted” is a mirror-polished stainless steel majestic saguaro cactus that not only commands attention, but also honors the area’s natural origins. A cluster and ribbon of white blooms and green buds trail down the saguaro’s body to capture the cactus in its spring bloom, evoking a feeling of strength and new beginnings.
As a nod to Flora Statler, who founded Surprise, a kind-hearted lady on the backside of the cactus cups her hand to one ear as she invites the viewer to whisper their dreams, wishes, and secrets into her ear. Confidences shared will travel up the grand cactus, to be released into the night skies above Surprise through the twinkle lights within the cactus blooms.
The City of Surprise asked for a sculpture upon which they could build a distinctive visual and narrative identity and hopefully spur future real estate development. They also asked for a low-maintenance sculpture that would look beautiful in the harsh Arizona weather that was equally engaging in day and nighttime viewing experiences. We achieved these goals by working our site-specific sculpture process and pulled upon all prior expertises and knowledge.
Truly, the story of how this city was founded and has steadily grown over the years was inspirational given the harsh environment of desert, mountains, and high temperatures. To see what the City of Surprise has grown into is the embodiment of its ability to grow and flourish despite the circumstance. The saying "bloom where you are planted" guided the artists in the design concept and carried the team throughout the arduous process of making a stainless steel, aluminum, bronze, and LED light sculpture from the beginning to final installation.
"Bloom Where You're Planted" is located in a city park near city hall, a lake, athletic fields, and a park. As soon as the construction fences came down, residents and visitors came. During the dedication ceremony, the mayor, arts council, and city staff joined Brad and Christy in sharing personal hopes and dreams for this sculpture in the life of Surprise, AZ. The night after the dedication, the artists spent time at the sculpture for a nighttime experience. A parade of ducks came by, circled the sculpture, and stopped in front of Flora. It turns out that Flora's dutch door is a perfect place for the ducks to see themselves!