Spirit of Camelback


Client: Scottsdale Public Art Program

Location: Scottsdale, AZ, United States

Completion date: 2009

Artwork budget: $251,000

Project Team


Kana Tanaka

Kana Tanaka Art, Inc

Industry Resource

Scott Dill

Illuminating Perception

Wendy Raisanen

Scottsdale Public Art


John Douglas



Spirit of Camelback serves as an elegant focal point for the performing arts center atrium. An array of more than 130 hand-sculpted glass stems punctuate the space, emerging from a curved wall, continuing outside of the building to beckon passersby and welcome guests. Atmospheric lighting flows through the stems and creates a constellation of delicately glowing organic crowns of crackled glass, with differing intensity from day to night. Tanaka’s sculptural installation evokes the mountain with subtle references to its topographical ridge pattern, to the organic forms of cactus blooms found on its slopes, and in the glowing colors of the sunset, seen after a hike to the top. The varying hues, from white to amber to fiery red, create crescendos within the artwork.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale AZ
Glass and fiber optics lighting
12ft x 28ft x 3 ft


The huge renovation project of 30 year old theater building including large atrium space needed a focal point, which serves as a way finding spot. The large curved wall was chosen by the artist to add glass objects and colored light that represents the shape of local landmark, camelback mountain in a subtle way, offering ever-changing shift of color of light.


In order to install 138 glass stems through 12" thick concrete wall, and to add all the mechanics of fiber-optics lighting source behind the curved wall-very tight space was a big challenge. The artwork area covers the wall for 2nd floor and a part of 1st floor, as well as outside. The collaboration between architect, engineer and artist was needed throughout the art design and installation process.