When you think of Phoenix, Arizona, “desert, hot, and dry” likely comes to mind. What may not, is murals. A mural is “a painting or other work of art executed directly on a wall”, and Phoenix is home to a boatload of them. There are more than 72* murals sprinkled throughout downtown and neighboring areas, and they’re all colorful, vibrant, and beautiful.
According to the website muralsofphoenix.com, the murals have been around a long time and have been mapped since 2014. Per the website, “Our mission is to support and promote artists and their work by providing them a platform to share their narrative and strengthen ties with the community. We strive to provide the community and artists with a repository of murals that keeps their work alive in a digital format through the use of an interactive mapping application”. The project has achieved many positives, not only for the city of Phoenix but also the artists themselves. The project made an award-winning mural mapping application, established and curated mural festivals, financed and supplied resources to local artists, created positive relationships within the community, acquired commissioned murals for artists, and provided free publicity to the artists.
The Murals of Phoenix app was developed by two life-long Phoenix residents named Julian Sodari and Sam Gomez. Sam owns The Sagrado Gallery in South Phoenix and Julian is an urban planner and geographer. They were constantly being asked where the murals were located, so they developed an interactive mural map to help people locate and appreciate them. From there, it has grown into an organization that helps promote and find commission pieces for local artists. They achieve this by being a point of contact between the artist and the client, helping to find the best fit for everyone. They also host “live mural events”, like the “Oak Street Alley Mural Festival”, which saw 40 artists painting murals simultaneously in one alley along with live entertainment, music and food. They also had a Dia de Los Muertos Festival at Azukar Coffee Shop in 2018. Unfortunately, I could not find any information on any upcoming live events, most likely due to Covid.
*I believe that the Murals of Phoenix map hasn’t been updated for a couple of years. Quite a few murals we found were NOT located on the interactive map. Furthermore, some of the murals that were on the map are now painted differently than the photo shown on the map. It’s just something to keep in mind, as there are now more than 72 murals, and they may look different than shown on the website or app.*
We stopped at and photographed 10 of the murals, mapping out 5 of them and just happening upon 5 more. However, we saw far more than that. If I had to guess, in the 2 or so hours that we drove from mural to mural, we saw around 25 or more. They are everywhere. All are painted on the side of public buildings and businesses, with some being more intricate and complex than others. Some were so high up that it was clear the artist would have needed a boom lift or cherry picker to paint it.
We visited: “Phoenix”, which is a collaboration piece located at the Barrio Café; “Stacy’s Mural”, LGBTQ+-themed angel wings located at Stacy’s at Melrose; “Timeless”” located at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel; “Black Lives Matter”, a collaboration piece by 6 different artists that “depict both the bright and the dark sides of being Black in America”; and “Arizona”, located at The Rebel Lounge and another collaboration between 8 different artists. Those were the 5 we visited for which I could find an actual name and information. There are many murals that do not have names, as they have yet to be uploaded onto the Murals of Phoenix website.
One of these nameless murals was on the side of the shopping plaza known as Coronado16 At Midtown, with another nameless peacock mural sitting directly across from the shopping center, on the side of a building for the business “All Care Cremation and Burial Services”. Another with colorful llamas was located on a nameless building under construction right across from Stacy’s at Melrose. On the back of Coronado16 was a wall of murals, which went all the way down to the famous “Phoenix” mural at Barrio Café. We saw another Virgin Mary-themed mural, as well.
I will include an address for each mural we visited/saw at the very end of this blog.
If you’re ever in Phoenix or the surrounding areas, don’t hesitate to make a day out of driving around the city to find and appreciate the plethora of murals available. Not all the murals will make you say “WOW” or will be your cup of tea, but I guarantee you will find at least 5 that make your heart happy. However, if you are a true art lover, then this is most definitely your cup of tea and should be experienced. The level of expertise, care, and attention to detail in these murals is something to behold and value.
Phoenix isn’t all dirt and cacti; we have some really cool art too!
“Arizona” – The Rebel Lounge; 2303 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
“Black Lives Matter” – 3rd street south of Roosevelt Street
“Stacy’s Mural” – 4343 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013
“Phoenix” – Barrio Café; 2814 N 16th St #1205, Phoenix, AZ 85006
“Timeless” – Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel; 100 N 1st St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Coronado16 At Midtown – 16 E Coronado Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85004
All Care Cremation and Burial Services (Peacock) – 1541 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85014