Art

Here's Why Eric Cox's Garfield Galleria Mural Was Painted Over

Old Man Phoenix by Eric Cox, before it was painted over in January.
Old Man Phoenix by Eric Cox, before it was painted over in January. Eric Cox/Photo by Lynn Trimble
click to enlarge View of former Eric Cox mural at Garfield Galleria in Phoenix. - LYNN TRIMBLE
View of former Eric Cox mural at Garfield Galleria in Phoenix.
Lynn Trimble
The owner for Garfield Galleria recently had a mural by Eric Cox painted over.

Cox painted the mural in 2011, when he was based in Phoenix. It was located on a south-facing wall of a building that houses an art studio, gallery, and artist live/work spaces on West McDowell Road near Third Avenue. Today, Cox's studio is in Tucson.

Titled Old Man Phoenix, the mural depicted a lone man's face, with the word "embrace" subtly written in the lower right corner of the piece. "It was clear to me then that not everybody would understand the piece," Cox told Phoenix New Times in a Thursday, January 18, message.

"To me, Phoenix isn't always a beautiful sunset," he wrote. "It is the cracks that are created by the blistering sun and the people that endure and thrive despite the oddities. I find beauty in those cracks."


click to enlarge White paint over Eric Cox mural spotted on Monday, January 15. - LYNN TRIMBLE
White paint over Eric Cox mural spotted on Monday, January 15.
Lynn Trimble
Cox learned about his mural's fate through a message from a friend that included a photograph of white paint going up on the iconic piece.

It's been painted over due to wear and tear, according to building owner Donna Trigilio.

"The exterior needed to be scraped, caulked and repainted," Trigilio wrote in a Thursday, January 18, email to New Times. "The color in the mural is faded to the point that it was time for a change."

A new mural by Lalo Cota, which will span at least the full south-facing wall, is already in the works. "It's a combination of his vision and mine and is evolving as we go," Trigilio wrote in a follow-up email on Saturday, January 20. "He already put a lot of the base color up on the front."

Cota is a prolific muralist whose work graces several venues, including Barrio Cafe, Carly's Bistro, and Chase Field. In June 2017, Cota's iconic sombrero flying saucer mural on a carwash at Roosevelt and Seventh Avenue was demolished to make way for a new development.

click to enlarge Lalo Cota's preliminary work on a new mural for Garfield Galleria. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Lalo Cota's preliminary work on a new mural for Garfield Galleria.
Lynn Trimble
"I'm just freestyling it," Cato says of the work he's done so far, which includes painting bright swathes of bold colors, including red, orange, yellow, and two shades of blue. He's expecting it will take several weeks to complete.

It's the nature of mural art to be temporary, of course. And Cox is keeping it all in perspective.

"Even though I'm disappointed that my painting is no longer there, I find solace in the fact that the intended emotion and statement is exemplified by 'his death.'"

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble