Inside Cattle Track Arts Compound: Scottsdale’s Unique Artist Colony

By local contributor
Lauren Topor

In Scottsdale, you will find dozens of art galleries and nearly 100 public artworks that decorate the city’s corners and bustling community spaces. Scottsdale has two art museums and is home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But what many people don’t know is that Scottsdale also is home to Cattle Track Arts Compound, an artist colony set on 13-acres in the center of a residential community located just off of McDonald Drive.

 

Cattle Track

In the 1930s, long before Scottsdale was brimming with galleries, studios and shops, George and Rachael Ellis purchased the then county land for just $100 — a modest price dictated by the recession-era real estate market. Almost from the beginning, the area served as a gathering place for artists and creatives, including Phillip Campbell Curtis who was sent to Arizona by the Federal Arts Project to establish the state’s first art center. That art center is now the Phoenix Art Museum. Arizona’s Pedro Guerrero, an architecture and interiors photographer who worked closely with Frank Lloyd Wright, also spent time at Cattle Track. And metal sculptor Ron Hagerty, who arrived in the 1980s, made Cattle Track his home and workspace for the rest of his life. 

Today, the Ellis’ daughter, Janie Ellis, resides on the property in the family’s original home where she continues to nurture the thriving local arts community.

Cattle Track offers a unique Scottsdale art experience that provides curious visitors the opportunity to step inside a number of working studios — and perhaps chat with and purchase art from a handful of Cattle Track’s resident artists. On any occasion there are between eight and 10 artists on site, working in mediums that range from pottery and photography to fiber and visual arts.

 

Cattle Track

There’s a strong sense of community here, and it extends beyond the Cattle Track property line. Cattle Track resident artists including fiber artist Chance Phillips, visual artist, furniture maker, and master printer Brent Bond, and pottery artist Mary VanDusen have partnered with the luxury boutique hotel Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows, located just minutes away from their studios. The hotel is thoughtfully outfitted with works from each artist, including unique hanging fiber pieces, handmade furniture items, and colorful stoneware pottery like mugs and serving vessels.

 

Cattle Track

Additionally, Cattle Track Arts Compound and Andaz have teamed up to bring local and visiting epicures and art enthusiasts a series of monthly outdoor dining experiences. The Artist Dinner Series, recurring monthly through April 2020, is anchored by a seven-course menu prepared by Executive Chef Nate Larsen of Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen. Taking place in the hotel’s herb garden, the dining series features seasonal decor, hand-drawn menus, and custom plates for each course — all crafted by Cattle Track artists. 

 

Cattle Track

In keeping with the long-standing spirit of fostering the imagination and work of both creatives and artists, Cattle Track hosts community-focused enrichment programs, like the monthly Cattle Track Talks series, which takes place at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month through May 2020. Similar to the format of a TED talk, these informative conversations draw in crowds from all over looking to hear stories told by craftsmen, writers, musicians and innovators, to name a few. It’s one more way Cattle Track Arts Compound keeps creativity alive in Scottsdale.

Cattle Track Arts Compound is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and can be toured for free by visitors.