Visual Arts

Rose Johnson's Prayer of St. Francis

Artist: Rose Johnson 

Medium: mural on the Mercer Mortuary building on 16th Street near Thomas Road. (Description below is written by Kathleen Vanesian in 2009. See her full story on the life of Rose Johnson here.)

Painted by an artist named Rose Johnson in 1998, with the help of some school kids, the mural, called The Prayer of St. Francis, stars large, stylized heads of people of all colors and races crammed together. The hand of an unseen person waves a rainbow flag, while someone else flashes a peace sign and another releases a white dove of peace. Rife with unvarnished optimism, it's probably the most famous of Johnson's public murals in Phoenix.

The mortuary mural has taken on an ironic quality these days -- ever since Johnson, well-known painter, muralist, performance artist, and critical part of the burgeoning downtown Phoenix art scene in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, died on the exotic tropical island of Bali at the end of May. She was 48. 

The countdown to 
Best of Phoenix continues! Last year, we profiled 100 Creatives who made a mark on the local arts scene. This year, we'll have 100 creative representations of Phoenix.  No scope or requirement on medium or size -- we'll include photography, painting, sculpture, video, installation, literary, and more. What do you see when you Imagine PHX?

Imagine PHX, so far: 
100: Steven Revering's Westward Ho
99: Jon Ashcroft's Suspended in Geography 

98: William LeGoullon's Table
97. Jason Hill's Phoenix Financial Center89. Arnold Guerrero's Camelback Mountain
88. Sean Deckert's Ginae vs. the 12th Street Gang 
87. Pete Petrisko's Admiral of Phoenix
86. Quincy Ross' Lone Skyscraper
85. Andrew Armstrong's Illustrated Cityscape 
84. Thomas Schultz's Phoenix Artifact
83. Adrian Lesoing's N. Evergreen
82. Suzanne Falk's Kon Tiki Hotel
81. Lindz Lew's Bon Voyeur
80. Kevin Patterson's Phoenix Swamp Beast
79. Ramy Sidarous' Three Windows
78. Will Mejia's Orpheum Theatre
77. Steve Weiss' Portrait of Louis Lee
76. Larry Willis' Apparition on East McDowell
75. Claire Warden's Untitled No. 3
74. Randy Zucker's Dancing Saguaro
73. Robert Brandan Martinez's Medical Cannabis Tax Stamp
72. Edward Jensen's Phoenix Financial Center70. Mark Dudlik's Phoenix Rebound66. Eric Iwersen's The Saguaros Have Been Here the Longest43. Jill Johnson's Downtown Is ...39. Sebastien Millon's "Phoenix. It's Fabulous."

And, hey! It's lunch time. Check out Chow Bella's 100 Favorite Dishes for some foodie inspiration. 

Have a suggestion for a Phoenix icon by a local creative? Leave it in the comments section or email [email protected]

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton