Three artists are making mural-style paintings at Tempe Marketplace, as part of a project called The Greats Wall: A Mural of Musical Masters.
The project includes paintings of renowned musicians, all deceased, from Elvis Presley to Aretha Franklin. Each 10-foot-by-10-foot portrait is part of a long canvas panel installed on a freestanding barricade near a vacant retail space that borders the outdoor mall’s main stage.
“We wanted a creative way to dress up the stage area,” says Emilie Andrews, senior marketing director for Tempe Marketplace. The mural project was her idea. “What better way than having portraits of these amazing musicians?”
Organizers selected musicians they wanted featured on the wall, then artists chose which ones they wanted to paint.
Tempe-based artist Gina Ribaudo chose John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, Prince, and Tupac Shakur. “I tend to pick colorful people, because I love doing colorful expressionism paintings where you can see my brush strokes,” Ribaudo says.
Lucretia Torva of Phoenix is painting Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Elvis Presley, and Selena. Torva participated earlier this year in both the Oak Street Alley Mural Festival and the Phoenix Mural Festival, and several of her works are on view around the Valley.
Tucson-based Jose Ignacio Garcia is painting David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, and Bob Marley. Like Torva and Ribuado, he also participated in a mural project at Desert Ridge Marketplace this summer, where 12 artists created stand-alone murals with diverse themes.
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For both projects, organizers worked with a nonprofit called Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance, which helped identify artists who do murals. Tempe Marketplace officials aren’t sure how long the Greats Wall installation will run, but after it comes down, they plan to relocate the long canvas to another location in the mall.
It's just the latest in a long line of art interventions at the site. For several years, ASU operated a Night Gallery inside a vacant retail space at the mall. In 2015, artists Hugo Medina and Karen Olsen created an installation at Tempe Marketplace as part of a public art project called IN FLUX. In April, they held a chalk festival featuring works by several local artists.
You can check out the new music-theme murals anytime you're at Tempe Marketplace, or during the free concerts with local bands that they present on an outdoor stage from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
“The whole goal is just to inspire the community,” Andrews says.