The walls of central and downtown Phoenix have been springing to life over the past few years thanks to local artists looking to define this community through public art. Anyone who follows Jackalope Ranch semi-regularly has picked up on these works via Mural City, our ongoing look at public murals across popping up around town.
Three specific areas of CenPho are home to the majority of these large-scale wall masterpieces: 16th Street, Roosevelt Row, and Grand Avenue. What better way to take in this massive public museum than by bike?
Thanks to a route devised by artist and muralist Jenny Ignaszewski, Cycle presents an easy 10 mile circuit that links these three mural epicenters. It's time to break out the bikes and check out some of the Valley's finest, because -- and this is the best part -- this art belongs to all of us.
The route begins at the corner of 16th Street and Edgemont Avenue, the anchoring corner of Calle 16. Based on the walls around (especially behind) the Barrio Café, the Calle 16 Mural Project is a community-based arts, cuisine and culture initiative conceptualized by Barrio's Silvana Salcido Esparza born out of frustration from SB1070.
What has grown from that frustration is a glorious cross-section of murals by the likes of Rose Johnson, Gennaro Garcia, DOSE, el Moises, Lalo Cota, and Ignaszewski. Each mural speaks differently to Phoenix as a place and how this community coexists - or doesn't.
The next stop along Calle 16 is The Hive, home to the boutique The Bees Knees. To get there, cut back to 15th Street, head south six blocks to Cyprus Street and ride back over to 16th. This gallery/studio/storefront/creativity refuge has a nice Cota/Breeze collaboration on the north wall and a brand new large-scale bee on the 16th Street side. If you're lucky, Hive owners Julie Fournier and Steve Helffrich may be serving some homemade Jamaica hibiscus tea.
Return to 15th Street to head down to McDowell Road and the southern end along the Calle 16 section. Cut left into the alley just before McDowell and encounter a massive surrealistic comic book-style mural by Joerael Elliott. This work is filled with such immense depth and detail that it's possible to gaze at it for hours and still find new craziness.
Next is the transition to the Roosevelt area, so follow McDowell west to 12th Street where you can turn left and cross over the I-10. On the south side of the overpass, look for the small market and the gracefully subtle mural on the east wall.
Continue south two more blocks to Roosevelt Road and turn right to start heading downtown. This is the heart of the Garfield Historic Neighborhood and home to a glorious mural celebrating multi-racial heritage along a house wall near the northeast corner at 11th Street. Also keep an eye peeled for a few wall murals on homes lining the south side of Roosevelt.
The main concentration of Roosevelt Row murals are in the alleyways of the heart of the arts district, along Roosevelt at 8th Street. Lalo Cota and Breeze make another appearance here with a scathing portrait of a couple of elected by the names of Joe and Jan. Also look out for Breeze's canal system map of the Valley on the side of the Regular Gallery.
El Mac and Augustine Kofie also mash their techniques for an awesome portrait mural on 8th. Cota keeps appearing as you ride west along Roosevelt, on the walls of Carly's Bistro.
Push westward to the Grand Avenue area and find the apartment complex with its strangely diverse mural, funded by Glidden Paint, at the corner of Roosevelt and Grand. Turn left onto 15th Avenue -- not cutting in on Grand -- and ride two blocks south to Pierce Street. Here a collection of giant Little Shop of Horrors-like monster plants, created by David Quan, aka Luster Kaboom, will bear down on you.
Cut over to Grand and ride a block down to Fillmore Street. Another Kaboom creation, the melting blue ooze of the Chocolate Factory, complete with a young cowboy from the hands of El Mac. Make a sharp right on Fillmore and turn left down the first alley as well as along Taylor Street to find some wall doodles and creatures by David Chacon.
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Follow Taylor back to 15th Avenue and turn right to head north back to Roosevelt. One block up at Fillmore is an awesome and heartbreak mural by Francisco Garcia. Get back to Roosevelt and ride east to 5th Avenue, turning right and then left on Fillmore to Central Avenue. This will take you to the Phoenix Public Market and home to one of Phoenix's newest murals by Joseph Perez.
After a quick sip or bite at the market, it's time to head back to Calle 16 and the ride's starting point. The easiest route home is Roosevelt to 12th Street, and then 12th to Virginia Avenue. Make a right and the left on 15th Street to return to Edgemont and a margarita and some guacamole at Barrio.
Trip Distance: 10 miles
Trip Duration: As long as you want, but at least 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy, but parts have high traffic so be careful
Route Map: mapmyride.com/routes/view/57938546