Artists don't need a big wall to make a big impact. And frankly, some of the best local murals aren't even painted on walls. Keep an eye out for small bits of artistry as you're making your way around metro Phoenix. Here are 10 of our favorites, spotted in places ranging from an apartment complex to a liquor store.
Ross, Wally and the gang
Recently, Phoenix artist J.B. Snyder painted the same wall for a third time, for a mural he's dubbed Ross, Wally and the gang. Located on a space that derives its Dressing Room name from a past life as a dressing room for Phoenix's first drag bar, the mural features Snyder’s characteristic intersecting lines creating blocks of shape and color.
Cactus Wren and Night Blooming Cereus
One of four small murals painted side by side by different artists, Frank Gonzales’ piece on a west-facing exterior wall at Liquor Express incorporates the birds and botanicals so prevalent in his larger art practice. Other murals he’s completed include a recent commission for the interior of Starbucks at Seventh Avenue and McDowell Road.
For the Love of Color
Phoenix artist Carrie Marill, who's represented by Lisa Sette Gallery, painted a coil of patchwork colors on the south-facing wall of Combine Studios, a complex she owns with fellow artist and husband Matthew Moore. The mural features Marill’s characteristic use of bright colors and geometrics, and she extended the visual play by giving a similar color block treatment to a nearby bench outside the entrance to Combine Studio’s exhibition space.
Karlito Miller Espinosa, who paints using the moniker Mata Ruda, created this mural on the south-facing exterior wall for Swiss Metal Works in the Coronado neighborhood with help from fellow artist Lucinda Yrene. Titled Más Allá , which Espinosa translates as “beyond,” the mural he calls “a small poetic piece” depicts a Mexican or Mexican-American woman looking at the moon and thinking about what lies beyond.
One of several small murals painted on the east facing exterior wall of the Bee’s Knees, this piece by Benji Sakoia adds to the vibrancy of the local mural scene along a strip of 16th Street called Calle 16, where murals abound. Sakoia sometimes uses different names for the mural, including The Giant Bee and Bees on Earth.
Read on for more of the Valley's best mini-murals.
Andy Brown’s small mural works, which often have a bicycle theme or characteristic concentric lines, are prevalent on apartment complexes in Phoenix and Tempe, where this cyclist on a building along McClintock Drive appears to be riding toward nearby Arizona State University. Look for another Andy Brown bicycle on an east-facing wall on the monOrchid building in Roosevelt Row.
I Like You
Jenny Ignazewski’s endearing bird, complete with affirmative text, is located on the Bragg's Pie Factory building. It's one of many positive messages shared by artists in the Grand Avenue arts district, where intriguing visuals also include hanging flower gardens, ceramics by “tile tagger” Irma Sanchez, and whimsical installations created with planters and chain-link fences.
After Palabra moved from Pierce Street to First Street, its first exhibition in its new space featured works by Josh Brizuela, who creates visual mashups of real and fantasy subjects infused with a frenetic mix of color and line. Brizuela also painted these images on a container behind Palabra, in a part of Roosevelt Row where people strolling by can enjoy several unexpected encounters with art.
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One of two works by Berlin artist Karl Addison located at the Kitchen Sink, this small mural is a portrait of architect Frank Henry, who created several distinct designs in metro Phoenix and was a renowned member of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation community. The mural features Henry’s characteristic slanted line work with gradual progression of colors, which you’ll also find on a small Addison mural behind Giant Coffee.
Peace & Light
Gabriel and Isaac Fortoul, best known in the art world as the Fortoul Brothers, say they’d love to find a larger wall for painting a Phoenix-area mural one day. But they’ve already painted a delightful piece behind the Windsor, where passersby get treated to an unexpected encounter with the brothers' art infused with stylized human subjects and bits of the natural world.