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

Although New Times named Rebecca Green's The Storybook at The Lodge Art Studio the best mural of 2013, Green was never fully satisfied with the work. "It wasn't really planned," she says. But the open wall was there, so she went for it.

"I'll just give it a shot," she recalls thinking at the time. "It took a lot longer than I expected." Green described the mural as "unfinished" when we spoke with her on Saturday, February 14, admitting she "cringed when people took photos of it."

"The whole top part of the mountains was raw," she explained. "A tree wasn't painted, and there was a whole outline of cactus underneath that was only roughed in like a sketch." But that's no longer an issue.

See also: Creatives 2012: 21: Rebecca Green

Green, who moved from Phoenix to Denver in 2013, flew back to Phoenix last Tuesday, and got to work that night on a new mural that now covers The Storybook. Step one was projecting a large image of her design onto the wall, and painting the basic outline of each component.

On subsequent days Green filled in the designs with various shades of gray. She then added pops of color and finessed small details. The finished mural took about 45 hours to complete -- even with the help of friends including fellow painters Abbey Messmer and Raphael Navarro of The Lodge, and Amy DeCaussin and Britteny Young. Beatrice Moore provided scaffolding and donated the colored paints used for the piece.

Green finished on Valentine's Day, just in time for Arizona's 103rd birthday.

The new mural, titled The Painted Desert, features a bevy of brightly colored critters from javelina to desert tortoise. Green hopes the mural inspires more families to explore Grand Avenue, and says she painted several animals lower on the wall so parents could take pictures of their kids standing next to them.

Green had been talking with Messmer about returning to paint another mural for some time, so when Messmer found a cheap flight back in August, they booked it. The timing was perfect temperature-wise, Green says. And it's great timing for the city -- which is celebrating arts and culture in a big way with next month's Art Detour event.

Messmer launched a crowdfunding campaign through GoFundMe on January 22. It's designed to cover Green's travel, supplies, and other mural-related expenses. As of February 14, 33 people had donated a total of $1,280 towards the $3,500 goal.

Incentives for donors include a three-pack of The Painted Desert postcards ($1 to $50 level), an 8-by-10-inch The Painted Desert print ($50 to $150 level), or a postcard size original The Painted Desert cactus painting ($150-plus level).

Everyone who donates gets an invite to the Funders Party on Monday, February 16. It's a chance for funders to meet the artist, see the finished mural, snag their thank-you gifts, and snack away with fellow The Painted Desert supporters.

The next day, Green heads back to Denver -- where her next show, a joint exhibition of new works with Sandi Calistro called "MILDFIRE," opens on Saturday, February 21. Because Denver is more condensed, she says, it's easier for people to get out and see a lot of galleries.

But the Phoenix arts scene has its own strengths, according to Green, who praises its high number of art fairs and other art events. Still, she says, it's a hard place for artists to make a living -- so that's something the community needs to tackle.

She's keen on the Phoenix mural scene, too. Green notes that several people she hadn't met before stopped to talk after spotting her in painting mode outside The Lodge. She figures people get excited about murals in part because they prompt the types of conversations people don't get to share very often.

Green suspects a lot of people either don't seek out art or don't seek out art in gallery settings, while outdoor murals encroach into peoples' everyday spaces. Green says one woman who stopped to chat said she'd never seen anything like her mural before. "It brightens everything," Green recalls her saying.

We couldn't agree more.

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

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