The Story Behind Such Styles' Arizona-Themed Mural in Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix's Roosevelt Row neighborhood has a new piece of public art. And it’s likely to be a lot less controversial than the Shadow Play sculpture installed just few blocks away last fall.

Created by Tempe artist Such Styles, it’s a mural-style montage of iconic Valley of the Sun imagery from desert landscapes to urban landmarks.

Commissioned by Valley Metro Light Rail, the piece was recently installed at the Central and Roosevelt Light Rail station – where it replaces a previous installation by Phoenix artist Kayla Newnam.

Titled Desert City Transit Art & Such, Styles' piece is part of the IN FLUX Cycle 6 program that brings public art to cities and towns around the Valley. Atop his images, he painted the word “transit” – using a different font for each letter as a way to reference diversity within the desert.

Styles got the commission after responding to a public call for art, then following up with more designs after learning he was one of two artists under final consideration. He actually painted the piece in December, and Valley Metro used it to create the wrap they’ve installed on the curved wall at the station.

Another Styles work, a graphic decal titled City Landmarks & Such, has been installed inside some Valley Metro Light Rail trains.

Styles says he drew inspiration for the work from his own light rail travels, and by reflecting on the experiences of other riders. Knowing visitors see various landmarks as they ride the light rail between cities including Glendale, Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa, he started wondering about which images they’d hold as memories, and tell others about once they got back home. These are the images he chose for his Valley Metro Light Rail work.

He’s been too busy to get a close-up look at the installation so far, but he has done a quick drive-by. And it was a moment. He’s been doing street art for more than three decades, but his first graffiti works were “underground wall and freight endeavors.” So bringing the work above ground, but still in a transit setting, had a full-circle feel.

Next up for Styles is painting a mural commissioned by Proxy 333, one of many new residential developments underway in Roosevelt Row. He'll also be live painting this Saturday night, May 18, during Mesa Arts Center's Spark! After Dark event — along with his son and fellow artist Champ Styles, and six other street artists well known around these parts. 

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