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Carrie Marill Paints a Menagerie of Tools Mural at Roosevelt Growhouse in Downtown Phoenix

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Roosevelt Growhouse got a new look in late September as Carrie Marill, an artist represented by Lisa Sette Gallery, began painting a mural on a couple of its exterior walls. The mural, which Marill titled Hand Tools, features images of various items culled from Roosevelt Growhouse, which serves as community garden, art space, and boutique in downtown Phoenix.

Marill used a single color of dark paint on south- and east-facing exterior walls, filling in outlines she’d made by either drawing freehand or tracing around various objects with a pencil. So far it looks like a two-dimensional take on a whimsical sculpture created with found objects. Marill says she's still working on the piece as time allows and hopes to finish in a couple of months. 

It’s one of three Marill murals located in Roosevelt Row.

Her bicyclist trailing a long line of flowers, created as an homage to the late San Francisco street artist Margaret Kilgallen, runs along the west-facing wall of Dougherty Wholesale Floral Company on Roosevelt and Second Streets. Her multi-color spiral graces the south-facing wall of Combine Studios, a live-work space Marill owns and operates with her husband Matthew Moore, an artist and fourth-generation Arizona farmer. It’s home to both their studios, in addition to ASU Art Museum International Artist-in-Residence Program and a small exhibition space.

Marill says Roosevelt Growhouse owners Kenny Barrett and Joshua Hahn had seen one of her paintings for Lisa Sette Gallery with a “menagerie of tools” look and asked her to do something similar for their space. But her mural-in-progress goes beyond a typical list of tools.

She painted a tree comprising wrenches near the front door, and several tools common in workshops such as a vise and an awl. But she also painted gardening tools, a broom, a scissor, and more — signaling that humans embrace tools for diverse purposes from creating art to making domesticated spaces.

But Marill’s work at Roosevelt Growhouse also highlights the importance of makers, reflecting the fact that most of the items the boutique carries are locally hand-made or assembled.

The mural also depicts several items displayed or sold inside Roosevelt Growhouse, such as vintage shoes and handbags. And there’s a carrot complete with long, frilly top, which signals the gardening side of their enterprise.

For some, particular items may fuel reflection on weighty matters. Are shoes tools for sexual empowerment or exploitation? Is the evolution of tools impacting our eating habits? And what might our own homes look like if we painted their exteriors with images of everything we’ve amassed inside them?

But there’s nothing wrong with just thinking it’s a cool mural.

Hahn says the mural helps to create a “more modern and clean” look for Roosevelt Growhouse. “I like the sense of humor and the organic mix.”

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