Paint PHX Mural Event Returns to Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, and Calle 16

Recently we spotted Phoenix artist Tato Caraveo in mural-painting mode at Paz Cantina on Roosevelt Row, where interior walls sport paintings by artists including Lalo Cota and a pair of sculptures now erupt from planters painted by Sabrino Peros and other local artists. You'll spot a new Lalo Cota mural by their nifty bikes, too.

There's a new mural by Angel Diaz and Thomas Breeze Marcus as well, which must be happy news to those who lamented the loss of the mural originally painted there. After folks noticed the earlier mural was painted over with a coat of parrot green, someone better at graffiti than grammar scribbled "Should of left this mural" in capital letters using red spray paint. We've also spotted Pablo Luna painting preliminary lines for his portion of another collaborative mural in progress at Paz Cantina. Come Paint Phx time, we're hoping to get a glimpse of Denver artist Gamma Acosta. Micheal Reyes at Paz Cantina tells me he'll be working a wall that's now covered with simple blue swirls. "It's a big deal," Reyes says of having the famed "Gamma" paint there.

It's a good time for folks in metro Phoenix to go into mural-watch hyperdrive, especially knowing that the advent Paint PHX, a four-day mural painting event, will soon be upon us. Last year, local artists launched the mural marathon that seems destined to become an annual affair.

See also: Rebecca Green Returns to Phoenix to Paint New Mural at The Lodge on Grand Avenue

This year's Paint PHX event is happening from Thursday, March 5, to Sunday, March 8. With Art Detour, the city's equivalent of an artsy open house, taking place that weekend, it will be prime hunting season for those in search of diverse art.

Paint PHX organizers tell us last year's event involved more than 60 artists in creating murals at about a dozen locations along 16th Avenue between Thomas Road and Van Buren Street, plus a couple of murals each along Roosevelt Street and Grand Avenue.

Organizers include artist Al Terego, who describes the event as an "organic" and "grassroots" affair. Terego notes that Paint PHX is "organized and coordinated by local artists, muralists, and supportive community businesses and collectives."

It's "next to impossible even for core organizers to keep track of every single project and artist(s)," says Terego. Still, they're working to create print and online maps including many of the mural locations for release this week. But don't overlook the value of keeping your eyes open for artists with paint brush in hand.

When we talked to JB Snyder by phone last Tuesday night, he was headed out to finish one of six or so murals he's got going at the moment. One is located near Carly's Bistro, and another's near Jobot Coffee. He expects to work on his largest mural to date, a piece near Margaret T. Hance Park likely to run about 29 by 100 feet, Thursday through Sunday during Paint PHX.

Terego tells us more than 300 artists may participate in this year's event, creating works at about 50 locations. Many hail from metro Phoenix, but some are from other parts of Arizona. Organizers say they've invited artists from Los Angeles, San Diego, New Orleans, Houston, Albuquerque, Denver, Chicago, New York City, Vancouver, and Hong Kong -- plus several Native communities.

Some artists are showing work in local galleries and other venues during Art Detour weekend (March 7 and 8) in addition to participating in Paint PHX. According to Terego. Douglas Miles of the San Carlos Apache Tribe is showing work at monOrchid's Bokeh Gallery, and Dwayne Manuel of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community is exhibiting works with Thomas Breeze Marcus at The Hive.

Terego notes that artists traveling to Arizona for Paint PHX include Brandon Odums, a New Orleans artist best-known for collaborative graffiti projects dubbed Project Be and Exhibit Be, and says Belgian-born street artist Caratoes is coming from Hong Kong.

Wall locations are concentrated in three metro Phoenix areas: Grand Avenue, Roosevelt Row, and 16th Street. But organizers tell us the event will stretch as far as Glendale, south Phoenix, and the Salt River Community in the East Valley.

If you've got a favorite mural in these parts, take your snapshots now. It's impossible to know which might get painted over as artists work their Paint PHX magic.

Keep your eye on a couple of alleys organizers tell us are in the mix this year. One is behind Jobot Coffee and Lost Leaf, the other by 1Spot Gallery and Drive-Thru Gallery. Maria Reed Montessori School is slotted for a mural by Yakita Fields, who participated in painting on 16th Street during last year's Paint PHX. Terego notes that several areas around and behind Barrio Café are "always getting new work by local and out of town artists."

Organizers are encouraging participating artists to do their own legwork -- from finding walls, getting permissions to paint, securing commissions for their work, and raising funds as needed. The Paint PHX mural projects crowdsourcing campaign that ran from January 12 through February 1 raised just $2,074 of the $$5,760 funders sought for expenses that ranging from paint to equipment.

Their online pitch broke expenses down as follows: $2,000 for purchasing close to 300 cans of paint, $2000 for rental equipment (either scaffolding or up to four hydraulic scissor lifts), $1,000 for primer and painting supplies from respirators to rollers, and $500 for renting delivery trucks to getting supplies and equipment to various painting sites. The average mural, they says, takes two to four dozen cans of paint.

"We are hoping to be able to assist between 5 and 10 different new murals throughout Central Phoenix," they wrote for the campaign. Their breakdown goes like this: Four walls on 16th Street between Thomas and McDowell Roads; Three walls near Roosevelt Street between 6th and 4th Streets; Two walls on Oak Street between 14th and 15th Street; One wall at Grand and 15th Avenues.

Original estimates on their crowdfunding page projected 100 + artists creating more than three dozen site-specific project. Bottom line: They've raised less than expected, but significantly upped their projected number of participants. And they've done some serious party planning along the way.

On Saturday, March 7, Paint PHX organizers and several local business owners in Roosevelt Row are presenting a block party to celebrate not only mural art, but also local music, food, skateboarding, lowrider culture, and more. The 5th Street Block Party takes place from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm. It's free, and Terego tells us the shindig is fine for all ages (beer gardens await those in the 21+ set).

Participating venues include Lost Leaf, THINK! Gallery, Lawn Gnome, Fifth Street Paint Supply, Black N Blue Rockstar Clothing & Accessorites, MissConstrued Boutique, Melt, MADE Boutique, and The Revenge of the Pravus Pop-up Gallery. Presenters include Jobot Coffee, 5th Street Paint Supply, and more.

Organizers tells us the event includes live mural painting, a lowrider show, a skate demo by Apache Skateboards, live screen-printing, and a live art battle (which has us imagining Mona Lisa duking it out with that cute American Gothic couple).

The entertainment line-up includes Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, Drunken Immortals, Wooden Indian, Dragon, Pro Teens, Jared Paul, Just Chris, El Goonie, and Mic Cause.

For more information, visit the Paint PHX Facebook page.

See also: El Mac on His Latest Mural in Phoenix -- And Why It Almost Didn't Happen

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