Visual Arts

Roy Sproule on Revolver Records

It's about time Phoenix sees some serious mural love. In the interest of giving credit to their artists and because we're losing track of the times we've said, "Woah, when did that go up?", we bring you Mural City, a series on the murals springing up around town -- their artists, their hosts and their inspirations.

Excuse Roy Sproule while he apologizes for the paint on his jeans and sweat on his forehead. He's been in the sun, painting the side of Revolver Records for almost twelve days. He's on his sixth gallon of paint.

He apologizes because he's been awake painting Billy Holiday's face (and taking coffee breaks at nearby Conspire) for the past 24 hours. Exhausted, he says he'll leave his makeshift studio a little early tonight; He needs at least a few hours of sleep for another Monday morning at Luke Air Force Base. He says his position in avionics is actually the reason for the tight schedule on his mural.

He'll be deployed for Korea on August 5.

Roy grew up in Detroit before moving to Phoenix for the Air Force. If he could do it all over, he says he might have tried the art thing full time. We (and the folks at Revolver) are just lucky he's still doing it in his free time. Actually, that's literal -- Roy's painting for free.

He was approached by Kenny Barrett, Program Manager of Roosevelt Row, who had been talking to T.J. Jordan, owner of Revolver Records. Ultimately, T.J. donated his wall, Kenny found Roy and Roy donated his time, paint and imagination.

Roy's on his third coat of Billy Holiday's face. Maybe later, he says, he'll paint the words she's singing next to the phonograph and revolver. Then he'll finish up the detail of the girl with the headphones on the far right.

In the Revolver Records' parking lot on Second and Roosevelt streets, he mixes whites, blacks and blues, but says his next experiment will be adding some red (he thanks Lalo Cota for the suggestion). It would be fitting to have some kind of jazz playing while Roy paints -- rather his CD player is stuck on Three Little Birds by Bob Marley. He's been listening to the one track all day.

"It's the most I've painted in this amount of time, so I'm in a bit of a daze," Roy says. "But the opportunity I've been given and the space I have to work with is unbelievable."

While his work on Roosevelt Row has been mostly solitary, Roy has has a few visitors who ask him about his mural, offer suggestions or simply ask for directions. One of his consistent visitors is Lindy Drew, a Phoenix-based photographer, who has been documenting Roy's progress (and gave us permission to use her photos).

Roy's work can also be seen on the 69- by 11-foot wall Valley Youth Theater's corporate office (on Third Street, south of Garfield Street in Phoenix). While he finished the mural depicting children's story characters and successful alumni in late 2009, he admits to stopping by sometimes to add a few coats of paint.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton