Art

A New Mural Honors Two Artists Murdered in Roosevelt Row

Early progress on a new mural honoring David Bessent and Zachary Walter.
Early progress on a new mural honoring David Bessent and Zachary Walter. Tato Caraveo
click to enlarge Early progress on a new mural honoring David Bessent and Zachary Walter. - TATO CARAVEO
Early progress on a new mural honoring David Bessent and Zachary Walter.
Tato Caraveo
A new mural is taking shape in Roosevelt Row, just blocks from the site where two friends and artists were murdered three years ago.

The mural will feature portraits of David Bessent and Zachary Walter, who were shot near Roosevelt Street and Third Avenue after working their shifts at Jobot Coffee & Bar on a First Friday in October 2018. It's going up at Carly’s Bistro, the popular eatery located at 128 East Roosevelt Street.

Tato Caraveo and Catie Cotter started painting in late June, setting Bessent’s portrait next to curved sweeps of color that include natural elements from bright tiger lilies to buoyant clouds. Walter’s portrait will be painted as well, and artist Lalo Cota plans to add a central element to the design before it’s finished in coming days.

The design also includes an excerpt from a poem written by Walter, who posted it on his Instagram page just weeks before his death:


I see clearly in death
It hurts, it heals me
Let my past be buried in Phoenix ash
May the benefits be everlasting


Says Caraveo: “We wanted to create a memorial that would help people remember Zac and David, and help tell their story for people who weren’t here when this happened.”

This is the second anti-violence mural coordinated by Carly’s Bistro and the local chapter of Moms Demand Action, a national grassroots movement affiliated with Everytown for Gun Safety, a group founded in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. The first mural went up on an east-facing wall at Carly’s Bistro in 2020, where it’s since been replaced by other designs.

For this mural, several people provided creative input, according to John Logan, a local musician, husband, and creative partner to Carly’s Bistro founder Carly Wade Logan. They include Brighton Casey, one of Walter’s closest friends, and Jobot co-worker Kharli Mandeville. Funds raised through crowdsourcing following the murders is helping to fund the project.

"This is an incredibly beautiful thing that I couldn't even have fathomed," Casey says of the mural. "Zac and David are still with us, but in a new way."

click to enlarge A new Roosevelt Row mural will honor David Bessent and Zachary Walter. - TATO CARAVEO
A new Roosevelt Row mural will honor David Bessent and Zachary Walter.
Tato Caraveo
For Logan, seeing the mural prompts memories of the last time he and Carly saw Bessent and Walter, in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 6, 2018. “We saw them walk by,” he recalls. “Normally they’d be riding their bikes but David had gotten a tire off his bike stolen.” Logan says he remembers passing them at Roosevelt and Central, as he rode his own bike home about 10 minutes later.

Soon after, both men were shot. The Phoenix Police Department announced on August 21, 2019, that it had arrested two individuals and charged them with the murders, adding that they were seeking additional suspects in the case. The department has not yet responded to Phoenix New Times’ request for an update on the status of this case.

In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, community members honored Bessent and Walter with various memorials, including filling a sidewalk in front of Jobot’s Coffee & Bar with flowers, candles, chalk art, and other remembrances. Gallery 119 showed an exhibition of Bessent’s artwork in September 2019.

Now, the mural serves as reminder, not only of their deaths, but also their lives filled with creativity and community. “We’re so glad,” says Logan, “to see this artwork bringing David and Zac back to the neighborhood."
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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