The mural was commissioned by Lennar, a Florida-based home construction company that recently developed the Muse Apartments adjacent to Arizona Opera. It’s part of a larger art initiative, according to Kara Roschi.
Roschi orchestrated the project last year while serving as chief curator for Curator Engine, a Phoenix-based small business that focuses on connecting artists with potential buyers. Recently, Roschi left Curator Engine to work for Local First Arizona, but she's seeing the Caraveo project through.
Roschi connected with Lennar early in the development phase for Muse, and they came up with a series of art projects totaling about $100,000. Caraveo’s untitled mural, which measures about 120 feet across, is just the latest part of that effort.
“It’s the largest mural I’ve ever painted,” Caraveo says. Phoenix artist JJ Horner helped paint parts of the landscape.
Work on Monarch Alley started in November, and wrapped up earlier this year. Caraveo started his mural on March 1, and has been finessing final details in recent days.
Collectively, the murals reference local arts and culture, including Arizona Opera and Phoenix Art Museum.
The museum is across the street from Muse. It’s exhibited works by Ed Mell and Philip C. Curtis, two artists whose styles share some commonalities with Caraveo’s style. Mell paints dramatic skies and Curtis is known for surrealistic figures.
He works with other subject matter, too. For Cookie Brokers on Grand Avenue, he painted a man eating a plateful of cookies. Caraveo painted abstract designs on a south-facing wall at The Blocks of Roosevelt Row, near an El Mac mural that recently was defaced. Last year, Caraveo collaborated with Graham Carew on several works for Crescent Highland Apartments.
Going from initial concept to finished mural for the latest Muse mural took some time, because several people were involved with the decision-making process. The city of Phoenix owns the building that houses Arizona Opera, so it had a say in what would go there. The city approved the design in February.
Caraveo submitted several designs, Roschi says. The final version looks a lot like a charcoal drawing he made years ago. “They wanted me to make the couple less goth,” he recalls of making small tweaks to the design.
For now, the couple’s identity is a mystery. Caraveo won’t say whose image he painted, but Roschi suspects it’s the artist and his girlfriend.
“That’s part of the charm of the mural,” Roschi says. “We’re just left to wonder.”