Caught with my phone’s camera…it was preparing to rain somewhere….
Driving home from work on 7/26/2022…beautiful end of a long day.
If you have been following the blog for some time, you might recognize the art/artist presented in this current installment of City Paint Phoenix.
The artist goes by the name of “El Mac” and he has painted murals all over the United States and across the globe.
I have shared images of his other works on at least six other occasions…which you can find by scrolling to the bottom of this page and clicking on the Category, “Street Art – Graffiti,” or by simply clicking on the highlighted link.
As you can read in this article in AZCentral.com, the image is based upon an actual person, a teenaged Native American girl who lives on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which is located just east of Scottsdale.
For those of you who live in, or are going to visit the Phoenix area, you can find the 45 foot tall mural on the southeast corner of the building at 111 W Monroe Street, just one block south of the better known Van Buren Street, and one block west of Central Avenue, in the heart of downtown Phoenix. There is metered parking on the north side of the building, but if you’re only going to be there for a few minutes, you could probably get away with parking in the alley on the south side, as I did. A security officer came out of the building to check on my truck parked in the alley, but he just smiled, said “Good morning,” and then walked away as he saw me with my camera admiring the mural.
El Mac painted the main feature of the mural and his friend and collaborator, Breeze, painted the decorative trim that we see in brighter colors surrounding the mural and extending around the building and down the walls.
After viewing the mural the first time and having taken multiple photographs with my phone, I purposed to return the next morning with my camera to make some “real” images, which I did.
I should also add that I left the scene that first morning with something of a lightness of spirit…like an inspiration or a feeling of calm…like it didn’t matter that I still had to go to work for eight hours and be stuck inside an office or talk to people with whom I really didn’t want to talk…it was okay. I was further touched each time I got out my camera during the day to look at the images again and again.
Maybe it was the serenity and hopefulness that I could see in the young woman’s expression…
…or maybe I was still awestruck from having been in the presence of a simple beauty that transcended even the need for words to describe it.
It was Tuesday morning after an anxious Monday…stressful months.
So many things have happened so far in this year of 2020…
…lies revealed, viruses emerged, taxes not filed, bountied soldiers’ lives not acknowledged, quarantines served…
…promises broken, tallies marked, masks unworn, lives lost, children caged, families torn, secrets revealed…
alliances broken, and real heroes scorned.
Sometimes it hurts to pay attention.
My morning commute down quiet streets, following taillights…
…watching the eastern sky gray into dawn, encountering silhouette cityscapes of buildings…
power lines, and ubiquitous palm trees.
Others heading in the same direction, south on Central Avenue…the light rail…bicyclers…
…a far off desert “mountain” that defines the lower edge of the Valley of the Sun.
Art museum, opera, loft apartments, pharmacies, coffee shops, attorney general office, city athletic club…parking meters…
…cameras watching to see who steals through a light….
Heading east now and ever approaching my destination, passing charter schools, groceries, fast food, temp agencies…
…ever present construction zones…and hospitals.
My bride and I ate lunch at this city park decades ago…when our children were little and life was difficult, though less complicated….
I could go straight and then left and reach the office…or I could get on the freeway and go somewhere else…head west, then north and away.
When I found a pedestrian bridge on an evening walk in Utah, a local spray-can artist had adorned the walkway with “Seek Life.”
Looking west from the bridge…contemplating the day…desiring that it fulfills hopes…that more ballots are cast for my guy than the other….
An overhead ornament on the bridge…a simple thing in a complicated time. Breathe….
I woke at 4:00 am, drove for two hours, and still arrived an hour or so after sunrise…considered doing the entire shoot in black and white…settled for color, though, as I could change the treatment later…changed the frame to more of a wide angle, similar to that of a large-screened television in format…found that I was disturbed by the breadth and mass of the sky in the viewfinder, actually felt off kilter, but I knew the setting would help for the more panoramic shots that would come later and didn’t want to keep fiddling with the camera…so I changed my point of view and came home with this….
More to follow….
That “Four Peaks” ridge in the distance is literally at least sixty miles from where I made this image along the Northern Parkway just east of the Loop 303, in the west valley of Metropolitan Phoenix. At ten minutes before 6:00 am on this Saturday past, the air was full of desert dust, vehicle emissions, and whatever other crap builds-up in the lower atmosphere between the parched land and the morning sky. This photo-making spot is along the route that I take to work every morning and I had been admiring the silhouette of the mountains in the distance for some time now. The quieter and less-busy morning seemed like a perfect time to stop and make some photos. Those sixty miles ‘twixt here and there are chock-full of western civilization’s offerings, as some five or six cities, two Native American Indian Communities, thousands of miles of city streets and freeways, multiple hundreds of acres of agricultural endeavors, and the exhaust of tens of thousands of vehicles and hundreds of thousands of people can be and are found in between.
I haven’t been hiking in the Four Peaks Wilderness Area, but might make it out there later this year or in early Spring of next year. It’s not something that you do in the summer months unless you camp nearby overnight and then launch up and back down from the peaks a couple of hours before noon.
Not like in the war for heroic deeds performed on the battlefield when risking one’s own life to save others’, but as in making something that could be considered plain or even unattractive, pretty, glittery, sparkly, refreshing to look at, and many other etceteras and etceteras….
I found myself downtown with over three hours of free and available time, yesterday morning, before having to report to work for a particular outreach event, so I intentionally brought my camera with me and visited what has been christened the “Grand Avenue Arts District” and found more than a couple of things to photograph.
In addition to the dozens of photos I snapped of local street art and murals, I found this row of decorated Aloe Vera and could not resist spending a few minutes’ time making a handful of images.
The morning’s sun was still gentle at 7:45, but the day had already started to heat up and another scorcher was underway.
There are occasions, when traveling in Arizona, that it feels like one is journeying through time as well as distance.
iPhone image made on 4/11/2018 just south of Wickenburg, Arizona.
A last reward after a long hike in northern Arizona…a view of the San Francisco Peaks from the shore of Marshall Lake (marsh) in the Coconino National Forest, just south and east of Flagstaff. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in that cabin in the distance….?
The western edge of metropolitan Phoenix is covered in various agricultural plots, fields and fields of sundry growing things, from acres of palm trees, salt-cedar trees, wheat (or some other grain), corn, cotton, carrots (recently harvested), onions, alfalfa….
…fields of them….
….rows of them….
….rows(es) and rows(es) of roses….
“….red and yellow, (pink) and white….they are precious in (my) sight….”
A wrong turn last Sunday brought me to this bit of sweet serendipity….the northeast corner of Reems and Olive for any local readers….
I slowed down a bit to admire the fields, clouds, and the bright sky, and knew that I had to return with my camera in quick minutes to capture what I had hoped would be some amazing photographs.
By the time I did return, maybe 15-20 minutes later, the clouds were piling closer to one another and the blue patches of sky were becoming fewer and fewer…and then blue was gray and the light was good for some photos and not for others.
I’m not sure how long I was actually out there, stepping gently between the rows, crouching among the thorns, and muddying my shoes a bit in the process….
…but I left with over 100 photos….
….and managed to whittle the prizes down to these few….
As always….thank you for visiting….
Just south of the Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Arizona, there is a scenic overlook that permits visitors to have a fantastic view of the river below, as it has carved its way through the red/peach sandstone that used to be an ocean floor in eons past. One can step past the protective guard rail and approach the literal edge of the earth, cliff-wise, and peer out and into the river’s chasm that is several hundred feet below.
The lines of the handrails and the ridges and scoops of the sandstone caught my eye when I turned to look back…a curious placement of such a thing when viewed out of context, but knowing where and why brings its meaning. For those who are used to walking on uneven terrain, the walk down and back is not difficult, but for others, the railing is…there if you need it.
The high for the day was supposed to be below 90 degrees…and there was a 50-60% chance of rain in the area starting around 11:00. The image is from two minutes shy of noon and I had yet to feel a drop of rain…and I wouldn’t for the next hour that it took me to make it back to the truck…but it was beautiful in its potential. Sometimes that has to be good enough….
approaching the end of a long day on the road, i saw clouds over the mountains and foothills and cinder-cones north of flagstaff, it appeared as though it might rain and i even thought i smelled it on the air as i came nearer to the mountain town, looking south and west at what was north and west of the settlement, i didn’t notice a wind, but maybe that is water falling aslant from the darker sky, above a fence-line dividing the earth in someone’s imagination
It doesn’t do it justice, of course, but this is a tiny representation of the almost six-hundred images that I made during my six hours in the canyon about a month ago. Following the pictures in their presentation, we’re essentially going from the beginning to the end…and anyone who’s taken a four to five mile hike in one direction, knows that things can often look so different on the way back to the starting place…lighting, moisture in the morning air, and even the tiredness and level of attention paid by the hiker/photographer can determine how and what things are seen. I also made several photos of the multitude of wildflowers that I encountered on the trail, but will include them in yet another post of the area.
Please remember that you can click on any photo in the gallery to be taken to a slide show that presents each image in a larger format.
The last eleven miles of the trip to Sycamore Canyon were on a dirt road that started out good and ended up bad…clouds of dust rolled up behind me in the morning light, making a hazy contrail that faded and ran in the rear-view mirror…eight miles to go and I almost didn’t stop….seven miles to go and I couldn’t not-stop. They stretched that far, first thin and then full. I got out of the truck and was surprised at the coolness of the air…and the light perfume that rode on its tiniest breezes. There was a fresh sweetness everywhere…literally surrounding me on this high-desert plain.
Late December, 2014…an uncommon presentation of a common-enough occurrence in the Desert Hills of north Phoenix.
I’m not sure of the names of most of them…and I had found another handful or so while on my two most recent hikes along the Black Canyon Trail, but the sun was either too bright and washed-out the photos, or the images were out of focus, so here is the remnant. A couple of the photographs are of subjects other than wildflowers, but they stuck me as visually appealing, so I included them, as well. Remember, you can click on any image to be taken to a slide-show that presents the photos in a larger format.
Hiking the Black Canyon Trail north from Table Mesa Road presents you with choices…at about 1.5 miles into the trek, you must decide to go east or west…either way brings you to the Agua Fria River. If you go west, you encounter the river sooner than if you go east…regardless of when you get there, it’s going to be “refreshing” in a way that cold, winter water is going to be refreshing on a hike through the Arizona desert in early February.
There are many things to see out there, in that desert…things to look at…and things to really see. Sometimes perspective can blind us to what’s right in front of us…and other times, it reveals things that might be hidden…right in front of us.
“We all…apprehend the land imperfectly, even when we go to the trouble to wander in it. Our perceptions are colored by preconception and desire. The physical landscape is an unstructured abode of space and time and is not entirely fathomable; but this does not necessarily put us at a disadvantage in seeking to know it….”
“…Believing them to be fundamentally mysterious in their form and color, in the varieties of life inherent in them, in the tactile qualities of their soils, the sound of the violent fall of rain upon them, the smell of their buds – believing landscapes to be mysterious aggregations, it becomes easier to approach them. One simply accords them the standing that one grants the other mysteries, as distinguished from the puzzles, of life.” **
**The above words are from Barry Lopez in Arctic Dreams….
I’ve been traveling the streets of Phoenix for the past five months with a new eye that is open and welcoming of things that I had never noticed in my earlier years of living here. If you’ve been following this blog for at least a little while, you might know or recall that I’ve recently returned to this desert home after living in the Salt Lake City area for about four years…after having lived here in Phoenix for over 20 years…and you might remember, too, that I started a City Paint series in Phoenix that was similar to a series that I had going in Salt Lake for a couple of years. Well…this is the third post in my collection of graffiti and street art displays that I’ve discovered while driving about my new/old home.
This flower shop is located on the south-east corner of 5th Street and Roosevelt Street, just south of the center of town in an area that has become something of an art district over the last several years. From all appearances, the flower shop has closed its doors for business…the rooms were empty as I looked in from the street…and as you can tell by looking at this second image, the plaster is cracking on the wall and the paint is beginning to peel…which is understandable, given that the mural is on the west-facing wall of the building and in near constant exposure to the desert sun.
When I did a Google search of the artists (as provided by the names under the “E” in the first photo), I found that El Mac had created another image that I had seen in the past…which I had shared in another blog post almost three years ago. I featured the below photograph in In the Heart of the City and in City Paint 4 – Tucked-Away Alley-Way, and provided a third glimpse of it in the first image from City Paint 17 – Gallenson’s Gun-shop Elk Mural.
You can find these murals on El Mac’s web site at Ave Maria and Kofie and Mac…pages five and eight if you want to visit from going to his home-page. After you get to his home-page, click on the “Spraypaint” subheading…and be prepared to be amazed at what you’ll find. If you’d like to view more posts on the street art, building murals, and related graffiti that I’ve discovered in both the Salt Lake and Phoenix areas, you can scroll to the bottom of this page and click on Street Art – Graffiti under the Categories widget to see the earlier other posts.