During 2016, the Valley's best murals were painted primarily in and around downtown Phoenix, often in areas already renowned as hubs for local art and culture — including Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue. Both single-artist works and collaborative murals made this year's best list. Most were created by Phoenix-based artists, but creatives based in Britain and other parts of the U.S. also added to the vibrancy of the evolving Phoenix-area mural scene this year. Here's a look at 11 of our favorite 2016 murals.
Reverberate Her Lines
Created by a collective of Native American graffiti artists who blend desert landscapes with compelling characters, this mural runs the length of the south-facing wall for Drumbeat Indian Arts store. Completed during the summer of 2016, it features the work of 17 Native artists — including Bel2, CC, Gloe One, Perl, Stef XMEN, Rezmo, Cherri, Monstrochika, Lady Rise, Agana, iLash, Live, Sensi, Yukue, Averian Chee, Zena, and El Dreck. Together, they have bragging rights for being named best mural New Times' Best of Phoenix 2016.
One of several graffiti artists featured in the SMoCA Mix street-art-themed fundraiser in 2015, Volar completed a mural comprising his signature lines in January 2016. It’s located on the west-facing wall of Arcos PHX Apartments, located on Missouri Avenue just east of 16th Street.
Let’s Get Free
Douglas G. Miles has several murals in and beyond downtown Phoenix, where he painted this piece behind Bentley Gallery during an annual multiday street art festival called Paint PHX. Created with his son Douglas Miles, Jr., Monica Wapaha, and Danielle Mercado, it features several characters based on Apache culture.
Prolific street artist Tyson Krank, whose work graces several buildings in and beyond the Roosevelt Row arts district, created this mural at Wren House Brewing Co., which we named best new brewery of 2016. Located at 24th Street north of Oak Street, the mural features the portrait of a friend, but with a botanical twist.
You Can Fly Higher
Joseph "Sentrock" Perez, a 2011 Big Brain visual arts nominee, completed this mural just in time for Art Detour viewing in March. The former Phoenician, who's now based in Chicago, worked with local artist Noelle Martinez on this piece, which is located at Grand and 13th avenues.
The Art of Beeing
British artist Louis Masai painted this mural as part of a global project working to prevent a sixth mass extinction of Earth’s species. It’s located on the west-facing wall of Bassim Al-Shaker’s Babylon Gallery just south of Roosevelt between Fifth and Sixth streets.
A Los Angeles-based artist with Arizona roots, MDMN was one of several artists who participated in Paint PHX 2016, where he created this 100-foot piece reflecting his sci-fi, futuristic yet retro vibe. It’s located on the north-facing wall at Fast Signs, on Central Avenue south of Thomas Road.
El Mac (Miles MacGregor), who grew up in metro Phoenix, worked with fellow Los Angeles artist David Choe for this piece referencing a Greek goddess identified with beauty and power. The mural reflects a deep connection to art history, which was also evident in El Mac’s 2016 exhibition in Mesa, where El Mac painted another mural in 2016. La Medusa is located on a south-facing wall at Cobra Arcade Bar, on Second Street south of Roosevelt Street.
Noelle Martinez created this mural on a block wall adjacent to Bentley Projects during Paint PHX 2016, working at the same time Douglas Miles as painting his Let’s Get Free piece, and collaborating with Miles to create a coherent visual transition from one mural to the next. It’s located near Grant and Second streets in the Phoenix warehouse district.
Commissioned by monOrchid owner Wayne Rainey, this piece by Brian Boner was inspired by the work of Jon Linton’s I Have a Name project, which raises awareness about homelessness. Boner painted the likeness of his own young son standing atop a quote attributed to Mother Teresa, and filled the west-facing wall at monOrchid with hundreds of birds in flight. The mural is located on Roosevelt Street near Third Street.
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Carly’s Bistro in the Roosevelt Row arts district in downtown Phoenix now boasts several murals featuring work by renowned muralist Lalo Cota, including a collaboration that runs the full length of the north-facing wall. The mural, which came together primarily over the summer, includes work by several artists including Cota, Colton Brock, Angel Diaz, Pablo Luna, and JB Snyder – and incorporates a piece called Hey created by Los Angeles artist MDMN.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version to include the title of Noelle Martinez's mural.