The best 2018 murals to date reflect a broad range of artist interests, from tattoo culture to immigrant rights. Most were made by artists based in Arizona, but artists from other cities and countries have also graced the streets of metro Phoenix with their creativity this year. Here’s a look at some of our favorite murals of 2018 – so far.
Meet Me at Daley Park
Commissioned by Tempe Public Art, Jake Early’s mural at Daley Park spans nearly 400 feet on two adjoining walls. Completed in April, the mural features a visual timeline of Tempe history complete with landmarks including Hayden Flour Mill and “A” Mountain. The mural also includes a rich array of desert plant life, plus images of people doing various activities from laying tile to bike riding. The mural reflects Early’s signature style, which includes clean lines and repetition of simple imagery. Early lives in Tempe, where he talked extensively with people living near the park before completing the mural.
El Oso Plateado and The Machine
The Swiss-based collective, comprising artists Christian Rebecchi and Pablo Tagni, completed three interconnected murals at the Heard building on Central Avenue between Monroe and Adams streets. The murals were curated by Anne-Laure Lemaitre of FatCap Agency, a New York- and Paris-based firm that specializes in street art décor. The main piece, which rises 100 feet over downtown Phoenix, features a pair of bears and two small machines placed beneath them. An image inside the building lobby references the building’s historical ties to media companies, as does a third image on a northern wall off an alley.
Phoenix-based artist Tato Caraveo painted a 120-foot mural on the south-facing wall of Arizona Opera in March. The mural shows a couple holding bubble wands, sitting back-to-back on a grass knoll beneath a sunset sky. JJ Horner helped paint portions of the landscape, which includes desert plants and flowers. It’s part of a larger art project commissioned by Lennar, the Florida-based firm that recently developed the Muse Apartments adjacent to Arizona Opera. The project was spearheaded by Curator Engine, a Phoenix-based company that connects businesses and other art buyers with local creatives.
Freedom Is Back
Artists Gabriel and Isaac Fortoul, who call themselves the Fortoul Brothers, created a mural on the Entercom building at Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street in April, as part of a collaboration with the Heard Museum. Indigenous youth participated in painting the mural, which depicts Isaac’s 12-year-old daughter riding on horseback. The piece is 30 feet high and 80 feet long. The Fortoul Brothers have also worked this year on a mural for Garfield Elementary School, which is located near their home studio.
Flora + Fauna
Eric Cox and Tara Sharpe
For their collaborative mural at 15th Avenue and Polk Street, artist Tara Sharpe and Eric Cox created the images of two women, whose colorful visages reflect the artists’ characteristic improvisations on traditional figurative work. The mural was painted in March as part of the Phoenix Mural Project, just months after a beloved Eric Cox mural was painted over at Garfield Galleria to make way for a new work of street art.
Ashley Macias and Volar
For one of their collaborative murals in Roosevelt Row, Ashley Macias and Volar painted a commissioned piece that features the word “Peace” surrounded by bright flowers, and objects including a string of beads and vintage key. The mural, which is located in an alley off Sixth and Roosevelt streets, includes pink and other pastel colors that convey a sense of whimsy, as well as the eyeball motif that’s prevalent in Macias’ larger art practice.
For his mural completed at monOrchid in April, Flagstaff-based artist Sky Black set a coyote within an urban landscape beset by rampant construction, referencing myriad changes happening in Roosevelt Row and the adaptations undertaken by those who live and work there. His piece is located on an east-facing wall, which previously featured a mural painted by Douglas Miles.
The Mural Project
The Heard Museum commissioned Cheyenne River Sioux artist Cheyenne Randall to create several wheat-paste murals, which were installed in April around the museum grounds. Randall is an appropriation artist, who often manipulates found images of pop icons and incorporates his passion for tattoo culture in his work. His imagery for the Heard Museum includes Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Audrey Hepburn, and other celebrities, in addition to other iconography including the horse and exotic flowers.
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Lucinda Hinojos (La Morena)
Painted by Chicana artist Lucinda Hinojos in March, this mural on Bloom's Flower & Gift Shop in south Phoenix was created as part of a mural project called Colors of La Communidad. The central imagery includes a young field worker setting a caged dove free, surrounded by butterflies that represent immigrants who are part of the Dreamer generation in America.
'Match': Kid in the Crosshairs
Jeremie Bacpac Franco was one of many creatives who participated in the Oak Street Alley Mural Festival in the Coronado neighborhood during March 2018, where she painted a mural with three images of young students against a bright red background. Over the central figure, she's placed the image of crosshairs, inspired by her opposition to calls for arming teachers in the aftermath of the February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.