When you think of Phoenix, Arizona, what comes to mind? “Desert, hot, and dry” most likely. What may not, is murals. and believe it or not, Phoenix is home to a boatload of them. There are more than 72*** unique murals sprinkled throughout downtown and neighboring areas, and they’re all colorful, vibrant, and beautiful.
***I believe that the Murals of Phoenix Map (available online) hasn’t been updated for quite some time. It claims there are 72, however, we found numerous murals NOT listed on the interactive map. Also, some of the murals are now painted differently than the photos shown on the map. Just an fyi to keep in mind!
According to the website muralsofphoenix.com, the murals have been around for a long time, but have been mapped since only 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 – 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” and a “Dia de Los Muertos” festival in 2018.
We stopped at around 10 murals, mapping out 5 and just happening upon 5 more. However, we saw far more than that, just driving around. In the 2 or so hours that we drove from mural to mural, we saw around 25 or more. They are everywhere. All that we saw were 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.
Overall, if you’re ever in Phoenix or the surrounding areas, please don’t hesitate to take a drive around the city to find the plethora of murals. Not all the murals will make you say “wow” or will be to your liking, but I guarantee you will find at least 5 that make your heart happy. The level of expertise, care, and attention to detail in many of these murals is truly something to appreciate and value. Check them out!