No Cover-Up Yet: Artist for McCain Mural Seeks New Scottsdale Location

Here's a rendering for the completed mural, on the wall that stirred so much controversy.
Here's a rendering for the completed mural, on the wall that stirred so much controversy. Aaron Bass
It’s been nearly a year since artist Aaron Bass launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a massive John McCain mural planned for a section of Old Town Scottsdale. Now, it looks like he’ll need to make a significant change of plans, because the city has asked him to paint over the partially completed artwork.

The mural was planned for the exterior of a building owned by Eric Marvin, which is located at 4235 North Marshall Way. Late last year, Bass created a small portion of the mural, which would have comprised about 30,000 red and blue pictograms that collectively form McCain’s face set against part of the Arizona flag.

But work stopped after Dewey Schade objected to the mural. Schade owns a parking lot that abuts the mural wall, and doesn’t want the artist to step on his property. He’s also objected to Bass using a lift to paint while elevated over the parking lot, making moving forward with the mural problematic.

Bass got permission for the mural, designed to measure 141 feet long and 30 feet high, from the city’s development review board late last year. But the City Council decided to review the board’s decision, putting the mural’s future in jeopardy. Earlier this year, Bass asked the city to postpone its hearing on the mural, so it was moved to the agenda for the July 2 city council meeting.

But then the project took an unexpected twist.

Bass sent an email to Andrew Chi with the city’s planning and development department on June 27, saying he was withdrawing the Maverick Mural case. The following day, Chi emailed Bass and Marvin with this request: “Can you please work with the next door neighbor to get access to the parking lot, so that you can repaint the north side of the … building back to its original color?”

Chi didn’t provide a deadline for repainting the wall, which hadn’t been painted as of Wednesday, July 10. Instead, he asked the artist and building owner to notify him once the wall was returned to its original color so he could conduct an inspection.

Bass says he hasn’t contacted Schade yet, figuring it might not go well. “He won’t give us permission,” Bass says of the parking lot’s owner. Phoenix New Times stopped by an Old Town business Schade owns on Wednesday, July 10, leaving a message that hadn’t been returned as of this writing.

click to enlarge Here's how far Aaron Bass got with his McCain-inspired mural in Old Town. - AARON BASS
Here's how far Aaron Bass got with his McCain-inspired mural in Old Town.
Aaron Bass
Turns out, Bass is working to secure an alternate location for the mural. “We’d like to keep it in Old Town,” he says. “But we don’t want to spill the beans yet.” Bass says he’s concerned Schade will continue to oppose the mural, even at a different site.

Even so, Bass admits his first choice would be another building owned by Marvin, who declined to talk with New Times when we reached him by phone. “If that doesn’t work out, we’ll look for another building,” Bass says.

Marvin also owns the former Bentley Gallery space, located just up the street in Old Town. He’s got renovation plans on file with the city, although Chi notes that a mural is not currently part of those plans. “We’re not looking at the Bentley building,” Bass says.

At this point, the artist is keeping his options open.

“We definitely have a number of potential sites, but there is one in particular that we are pushing for,” Bass says. “In the next week or so, we may know.”
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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