Griffin One's "Communal Thread of Raw Creation"

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It's about time Phoenix sees some serious mural love. In the interest of giving credit to their artists and because we're losing track of the times we've said, "Whoa, when did that go up?", we bring you Mural City, a series on the murals springing up around town -- their artists, their hosts and their inspirations.

If you've been to Conspire within the past week, you may have noticed something different about the south side of the building: a new mural, done in vibrant shades of blue and purple aerosol, that resembles a surrealist painting full of random objects.

The mural is the work of artist Sean Griffin, a.k.a. Griffin One, and it's called the "Communal Thread of Raw Creation."

"The theme of the piece revolves around common everyday objects that are strategically placed to keep all the different parts together," Griffin says. "The staples and nails represent the diversity of things that can be used to do this, and represent that which is holding this downtown Arts District & the Roosevelt communal fabric together. The thread is pulled taught and reveals the personality and the lively rawness of creativity, and the potential that it holds for this area to flourish and grow."

Griffin's been creating art in various mediums - from urban aerosol murals to paintings to T-shirts - since the mid-1990s. 

Born in Nairobi, Kenya and raised in Sedona, Griffin says he was influenced by the art in Sedona, as well as skateboard deck graphics and artists including Derek Hess, Alfons Muca, H.R. Giger, Vaughn Bode, Cause-B, and Tyke. 

He's lived in Seattle, San Diego, and Louisville before relocating to Phoenix, and his murals can be seen at The Compound in Tempe ("Tree Fort/Tree House"), The What You Want Store in Sedona ("Plug In"), The Green Room in Flagstaff ("G-Bug"), and Mad House Clothing in Tempe.

He says he decided to do the mural for Conspire because he supports Conspire's co-op/communal arts cause. "Conspire is a staple in the downtown Phoenix Arts community. The people behind this spot are working hard to create and maintain a place where you can get a smoothie, or a bite to eat, while hanging out with other like-minded souls," Griffin says. "They are avid supporters of local arts, providing a place for local creators to sell and showcase their stuff, be it clever hand-made jewelry, clothing, wild little stuffed creatures, wooden robots, canvas art, you name it."

But Griffin says the Conspire building gave him some challenges. "Part of the challenge was working with the many different types of surfaces and angles of that side of the building, including brick, some windows, a shed, clever seating additions, etc, and coming up with a way to create a visual illusion of a flat surface," he says. "The other challenge on this one was the 110 degree heat wave that was going on while I was painting this piece. Luckily, Conspire's nice, cold iced tea kept me standing."

Currently, Griffin One's working on a mural for an upcoming music and arts venue in Tempe called Venue 104. "Venue 104 Performance Cafe is a brand new spot in Tempe that will be showcasing actors, musicians, food, beer, and visual art all under one roof," he says. "The theme of this next mural is going to embody a fusion of these elements. It has something for everyone and it's a pretty classy joint."

Venue 104 (slated to open in early August) is located at 940 E. University Drive, Suite 102, in Tempe. Conspire is located at 901 N. Fifth Street in Phoenix. To see more of Griffin One's artwork, visit www.griffinone.com.

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