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Stories of NEsting
Mitchell Park East & West Neighborhoods
Two (2) water dispersing culverts, 5’ d x 5.5’ h
medium: handmade sculptural tile, smalti glass tile, stone
In collaboration with the neighbors of Mitchell Park East & West in Tempe, Arizona, two concrete culverts were embellished with handmade tile, mosaics and stone to create a visual story of the migration of endangered birds. Because this neighborhood uses flood irrigation, the area is lush with large trees and a variety of bush and plant material attractive to birds. All of the birds depicted in these two artworks have been identified in the neighborhood.
Baron invites us to be mindful of the intricate relationship and responsibility we have to this ecosystem. Everything has purpose. Stories of Nesting explores the desire and natural inclination for all of us to find a place to nest and call home.
Earth Rising - Reborn
Lowe’s Retail Plaza
Three sculptures, 13’ h x 4’ x 4’, 11’ h x 4’ x 4’,
9’ h x 3’ x 3’
medium: Screened dirt (rammed earth construction technique), fired clay, natural colored oxides, reclaimed & up-cycled materials, steel, recycled & handmade tile, stone, marble, granite, onyx.
Sculpture: Initiated by City of Tempe - “Percent for Art in Private Development” this trio of rammed earth constructed earthworks is sited at the busy intersection of Rural Road and Baseline Road (once the site of Earnhart auto dealership). Salvaged tools, auto parts, up-cycled stone and tile materials are encased within fabricated steel cages. Here, Baron explores and reflects upon current economic issues – when dramatic change is brought about by a need to reinvent urban spaces. Memory of place, time and history are informed through these collected artifacts and use of earth as a construction material.
Rammed Earth Construction
Owner: Quentin Branch
Yaqui Alleyway Beautification Project
2008 - 2013
scale: 150’ L x 7’h
materials: Nova exterior mural paints, fired ceramic photo tiles, fired/glazed sculptural ceramic elements.
Neighborhood: This large mixed-media mural depicts the Yaqui Indian migration from interior Mexico into Arizona. Yaquis played a key role in the construction of the Arizona canal system that we benefit from today. The murals share the stories, challenges and unique cultural contributions of this dedicated tribe. Community at-large joined with tribal members in the painting and ceramic workshops facilitated by Joan & Yaqui artist, Mario Martinez.
The alleyway serves as an access walkway & destination site. Visitors can also explore the adjacent Vista Del Camino Community Center & Eldorado Park.
Today, Yaquis of Arizona live in Tucson, Guadalupe & Scottsdale, representing a significant element of Arizona history.
Archived photographs continue to be provided to the artists by Yaqui families throughout Arizona. The photographs are installed within the murals on custom glazed tiles. Executed in black and white they are exquisitely detailed.
Mario Martinez, a gifted painter and former resident of Penjamo Village in South Scottsdale, now resides in New York City. His contributions to this project add a unique and distinctive abstract expressionist style to these walls.
Earth Wall - Living Wall
Thompson Peak Parkway
1997 - 1999
size: two-sided earthen walls, each 3/4 mile length, 9’ h - 12’ h variation, 18” wall depth, 8’ d mandala (based on sacred geometry of the Nautilus Shell)
medium: screened earth (rammed earth construction technique), natural oxides, handmade ceramic elements, poured in-place concrete, collaboration on landscape
Public art: Thompson Peak Parkway serves as a major thorough way into the McDowell Mountain Ranch community of North Scottsdale. It features undulating earthen walls that provide sound mitigation, color and texture to both pedestrian and driver/passenger. Glazed ceramic elements embedded into the walls carry the memory of community stories and images created during site workshops. Collaborating with the landscape architecture firm & city staff, added a colorful palate of desert plants and boulders. The 8’ Mandala greets residents on the north, thus creating a unique aesthetic calming element within the cul-de-sac and the adjacent neighborhood.
The Mystical Adventure of Erma, Edgar, & Sliver at Breathing Bubble Pond
Phoenix Children’s Hospital Art Commission
size: 90’ l x 4.5’ w
medium: recycled saltillo tile, mosaic tiles, hand-blown glass,
“Gentle Wind and Brave Tree swirled a tender welcome song around Erma and Edgar upon their arrival at the pond. Sliver had been living there for a long time and was excited to be reunited with her friends once again. Together they sat in the stillness, for they knew they were in the holy zone of the luminous shining self. “Look how they balance upon the water,” remarked Sliver with a flourishing in her heart. Through her deep, pondering eyes, Erma shared, “Light is what we are made of, it is our essence.” As Edgar gazed into the bubbles, he caught a glimpse of the moon nestled in shards of memories... “Cosmic my dear friends, simply cosmic!”
Wellness: Sited in a narrow space, viewable through multiple windows in the pre-op area, children and their caregivers can view this mixed media art installation. A short story, composed by Baron, accompanies this piece. It shares the adventures of three dear friends.
This unique installation provided an opportunity for anxiety and stress to be minimized when gazing into the space.
Tempe Post Office
"The Curtain of the Alchemist's Delight"
The Curtain of the Alchemist Delight explores & examines my interests in plants, fetishes, & sacred objects. As an environmental artist, my life long interaction with the natural world strengthens my intuitive skills. This mixed media piece incorporates reclaimed & repurposed materials gathered from my desert journeys, while other elements are created in the studio after these explorations. With this installation, I seek to remind us of our intimate connection to animals, plants, & Mother Earth herself. It is this connection to the precious that drives me forward in my art works.
Matthew Henson Hope VI
Buckeye Road and 7th Street
Neighborhood: Mixed-income development in South Phoenix.
Nine mixed-media and mosaic tile entry monuments throughout the 26 acre community were created & installed by Baron Studio
Three hundred fifty-six (356) of the 372 previous units will be demolished and the remaining 16 units will be rehabilitated to preserve the area’s historic nature and used for space to provide social services. The City is poised to use the grant as a catalyst to revitalize the Central City South Neighborhood by allocating additional funds to extend the revitalization process into the surrounding communities. In addition, the City has designated approximately 170 acres of the Central City South Neighborhood as the HOPE VI Special Redevelopment Area.
Matthew Henson Apartments, Senior Living at Matthew Henson, the Vernell Coleman Youth Center, and the Community Training & Education Center comprise Henson Village. The new development will be a mixed-income community with housing available to families of various incomes (public housing, tax credit and market-rate). The new mix of housing types will include single-family detached homes, multi-family garden apartments, duplex townhouses and a senior complex. Various green building features have been integrated into the community providing great environmental, economic, and social benefits.
Commissioned by McCormack-Salazar developers and the City of Phoenix, with support of HUD partners.
Precious Resource - Abundance Recycled
NE Corner of 16th St S of Buckeye Rd at the intersection of the I-17 Maricopa Freeway underpass
1999 - 2002
size: three (3) sculptures, 13’ h - 15’ h, 5’ w - 6’ w, total project intersection, appx. 20’ x 230’ x 160’, 2,500 sq. ft vertical surface areas.
medium: steel, aluminum, reclaimed & up-cycled metal objects, kinetic elements
Street-scape: This project was a collaboration with the students of Herrera Elementary, Ann Ott Elementary School and the City of Phoenix Transportation Department. It explores the balance between scarcity and abundance. The artist team incorporated painted surfaces and a variety of mixed-media materials in direct response to discussions with students about trash, recycling and pollution in their urban neighborhoods.
Welded steel and up-cycled metals comprise the majority of the work for its durability and natural patina as the material ages. The shapes were inspired by Madagascar Palms found during research outings at the Desert Botanical Gardens.
The top of each sculpture incorporates moving parts that respond to wind and other weather conditions.
Act of Mindfulness
“Sites Around the City: Art and the Environment” Tempe Town Lake Tempe, Arizona
Scale: Underneath the south bridge
Medium: large river rock, ceramic chards, fire, music
The labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking this labyrinth, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition. Sacred geometry – a handful of ratios to create forms that help the seeker to resonate properly to achieve their desired spiritual goal, was used in the design. Temporary art installation: “An Act of Mindfulness” began with Joan’s personal gathering of river rock from the dry basin adjacent to Tempe Town Lake. The installation proceeded with a dousing of the area to identify the earth’s strongest magnetic location. byrinth. A traditional nine-circuit layout similar to that found at Chartres Cathedral in France was chosen. Stones were carefully placed along the outline of the Labyrinth. Prior to beginning ones walk, each participant was invited to write on a clay shard their intention. This shard was carried to the center of the labyrinth. To begin the labyrinth walk, one knelt on the entry mat, announced thier entry through the striking of a small bell and slowly began their meditative walk following the precicely laid out pathway. Once at the center of the labyrinth the shard is placed into the active fire pit. This gesture solidified the intention making it permanent. The return journey allows time to reflect and calm the mind. Complementing each person’s sacred walk were drummers and well known guitarist, William Eaton. Funded in part by Arizona State University Art Museum, The Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
Healing Garden – Good Samaritan Hospital
12th Street at McDowell Road
size: nine (9) pillars, 12’ h x 2’ x 2’, 1300 sq. ft.
medium: ceramic tile, tile & glass mosaics, landscape material, water features, organic materials, poetry, customized dedication wisdom circles (on-going as fundrasing activity with artist and donors)
Garden: This open air healing garden is sited within the grounds of Good Samaritan Hospital. A team collaboration resulted in a unique multi-sensory environmental experience for patients, families, visitors and hospital staff. Open year-round, the garden shares universal themes of healing within nature. Water elements provide soothing relief and opportunity for both quiet contemplation and social gathering. The Pillar’s Message offers a walking meditation for the visitor.
Custom tile works were installed on-site by Baron over a six month period. The interplay of color, texture, pattern & message brought new life to this open plaza garden.
The Pillar’s Message
A walking meditation/composition by Joan Baron
And the pillar said,
Lean and be with me
Feel my presence for I am in you
Do you know my history?
Consider my parts
I stand strong
My design, a composition of many sizes,
many colors that make me whole – holy.
Can you see how it works?
Do you embrace your textures?
Hello, shall we become friends?
I am old yet I hold within me many stories for you to know
and I shall love to hear yours
Stand strong and proud as I do
Welcome my friends; the sun and moon, rain, wind and stars
They are my loyal friends
They help me put forward a future vision
I am here for you; come paint a prayer about nurturing with me
You think because I am a pillar that I cannot feel what you feel?
My composition suggests differently
Help me create a new state of consciousness
Come talk to me in the garden
Relax, get clear
Smell... touch... listen
Return to the land of your soul
Reach powerful magic
Watch how kindly the water interacts with the trees and flowers, herbs, bee, bird, butterfly, ladybug, praying mantis, all plants...
Be witness to the gift of nature
Be willing to allow your body to rest
Empty your mind of everything
Merge your heart and soul into this experience and watch the child in you expand
Joy to you my friends