The Palo Verde trees are in bloom…everywhere, if that’s not too broad of a term…and the wind-blown flowers are scattered…again…everywhere…like a spilled bag of popcorn…with extra butter.
Image made with iPhone.
Found in an alleyway where people park their garbage cans so the collection service can do their thing and haul away the waste. There was a stretch of decorated wall that ran more than 100 yards deep into the alley…the backsides of backyard walls in a mid-city residential area. The art was created as part of Paint Phx 2015.
It’s been almost two months since I posted any of the street art images that I’ve collected since my return to Phoenix, and while this one isn’t typical of the city’s offerings, it is a rather grand image on a down-town building in the central corridor.
The mural is on the south-facing side of the Fast Signs building at 2517 North Central in Phoenix. I’m not sure how long it has been there and I don’t know anything about how or why it came to be. I searched for what appears to be the artist’s information via the website information that they provided on the far left side of the mural, but was directed to a nail-fashion site…so it’s probably not related. When I Googled the name of the mural, I found this link with photos that show the artists actually painting it….
And if you’re interested in viewing earlier posts on street art in Phoenix and Salt Lake City, you can scroll to the bottom of the page, find the Categories widget toward the right side, and click on Street Art – Graffiti.
Thanks for visiting…now go Find Your Direction…..
There was a certain feeling of nakedness and vulnerability that came with being the only visible white person within several blocks…who was also standing on the second-floor landing of an outside staircase in front of a faded and worn, black security door and having an invisible dark-brown voice coming out from somewhere on the other side of the door telling me that I needed to leave…telling me that I needed to go, to be gone, to be absent, to be somewhere else…anywhere else…and away.
It was full daylight on a bright desert weekday in some kind of month when the sun was making my face run with sweat, smack-dab in the middle of the neighborhood at 15th Avenue and Buckeye, easily within the perimeter of the inner to mid-city boundaries of central Phoenix. The address used to be 1502 West Buckeye Road, but the two-building, two-storied, and L-shaped apartment “complex” has gone the way of urban-renewal and no longer exists. It was deemed to be part of the blight in that particular city-council precinct. The corner was now home to just a traffic-signal pole and an empty and graveled lot that sparkled with the detritus and glass of a Mad-Dog and beer-bottle graveyard. People parked there sometimes when they were visiting the tent-revival meetings at the “church” on the south-side of the street and a little east of there…other people parked their taco-wagons and multi-colored, plastic patio chairs there and sold those spring and summer-time evening tacos and birria (goat-meat) burritos to passers-by with a middle-loud to real-loud loud-speaker playing various folk-tunes from south of the border. If you’ve heard them before, you know what I mean when I describe them as sounding like they come from a Bavarian Oktoberfest celebration with the polka-accordion-esque tunes that seem foreign and absurd in their central Phoenix surroundings.
As I said, there was a certain feeling of vulnerability, standing there, elevated as I was, on the back-side of the complex on that four-by-six foot metal platform at the top of the stairs. There was nothing to hide behind and no porch-cover overhead, no posts or poles to hold an awning or sun-shade that no longer existed. It was just my tall-assed, white-male self standing there beneath the sun with that soft dark voice talking to me through the security door. I didn’t even have to knock –
“Hey,” I said, as I was held-up my ID tag. “I’m with the health department….”
What do you want?
“I work at the clinic and I’m looking for So-and-so….”
I know who you are, he interrupted, put that thing down.
“Oh…ok…. Well, I need to talk with So-and-so. Is she here?”
I said you need to put that thing down…really…you need to leave, man.
“Ok…it’s really important that I talk with her….”
I know that, man, but you need to leave…please.
Yes, he really said “please.” He was articulate and warm and kind and sounded like he didn’t belong there, either.
I almost whispered, “Alright, can I leave a card for her?” as I was pulling-out a card and envelope and pen and turning sideways to look back and around and into the neighborhood.
No, man, you have to leave, and don’t be turning around like that.
His voice was urgent, yet gentle…like it was coming from someone who was almost my friend…someone who, if he was in a different place, would be my friend, big brother, or mentor. It felt like he was trying to protect me…to urge me away and back into some kind of safety where I belonged.
I tried to hand him my business card, not the one that I would have had to stand there longer to write on, but just my card.
Put that down, man. Don’t try to give me anything. Just go. I’ll tell her. Go on now.
So…I left. I walked back down the sun-faded and shiny and greasy and dirty staircase and out through the alley and toward my car. I fought against the urge to turn and look back at the door I had just left, so I occupied my mind and eyes with slowly panning side to side, searching for other people and eyes that might be looking in my direction. Maybe they were inside other houses or buildings and sitting behind the partially closed mini-blinds that faced the sunward side of the alley and street where I walked…maybe they were in the truck or van that drove down the street and turned away and gone.
What was there? What was going to happen or might have happened…what did I walk into…or away from on that long desert day in that whatever month where the sun was hot and bright on my face?
…you need to leave…please….
****This is a Favorite Re-post from March, 2010
Part of the day was done and there was still more to go…time card punched and waiting again…waiting again and again to punch back in and head up-town…waiting and thinking and knowing how to spend hours, not wanting to kill time and risk injuring eternity, but I was miles from home and miles from anywhere, and waiting to surround myself against my greater will with sounds foreign and people matching, piercing needles and veins on men and men, watching the sun go slowly down against a city-horizon of brick and stone and palms rising from urban desert sands with pigeons bobbing across asphalt driveways, with vagrant men sleeping and waking and running with wringing hands across the greenbelt, teens riding skateboards in the library parking lot, and paint ghosted onto walls random and intentional, messages wrought like iron in the workman artist’s hands. There was no south shore of a great and salted lake, but the sky and its clouds looked the same and gathered me in and drew me up and lost me in the white and blue similar heaven that was reflected in sky-scraper windows that bend in a lens as airplanes rode through a magical net.
Tamara had done a piece called Net Art and brought a random thought closer to fruition…inspiring night-time images of a familiar place, a bit of string and cable launched into the realm above a city park where black men and brown sat lounging in silver metal chairs with legs crossed and sun-glass-ed eyes open or closed in their tilted heads appearing to see what I saw and being Okay with just seeing it; it was just a thing that was up there, a thing that caught my eye in passing a light-rail platform with curves and lines of its own, riding ground level out and away from that city-center into the beyond.
My camera does’t like the night-time and my processing kit doesn’t straighten buildings, but it…the camera, does allow me to lie in the middle of the grassy park in my work clothes while I point it skyward and imagine that I know what I’m doing, looking through some other lens, some other set of eyes that ride atop words and desire to find and fill and consume and possess, to express, to show, to manifest ideas in a tangible form of ink dots or binary wonders.
You can learn more about this bit of wonderfulness by clicking on these words and flying through space and time to the artist’s web page. If you’ve got a few minutes, I highly recommend watching the two videos…the second one shows the construction/assembly in a time-lapse format.
Here is yet another of El Mac’s murals that one can find in Phoenix. You can see some of his other work in City Paint Phoenix 3, 6, 7, and City Paint 4 and 17 in Salt Lake City….and you can get to those other posts by scrolling to the bottom right corner of this page and clicking on Street Art – Graffiti under the Categories widget. This particular mural is located on the south and street-facing side of Love and Hate Tattoo and Piercing, located at 322 West McDowell Road. You can click on their highlighted name to be taken to their webpage…if you’re interested.
…and I said I’d be going back to capture some images of the work. I didn’t get there the next day, like I had hoped, but I did manage to get there a little later when the mural was complete.
Coincidentally, the owner of the building (Joseph…or maybe it was James….?) was walking out to his vehicle as I was driving mine into the parking lot. After asking if it was OK to be there on the property and make some photos, I asked the man if he knew anything about the mural. He mentioned that an artist from Hong Kong was actually brought into town to create the mural as part of the Paint Phoenix 2015 paint festival….and that this is a mermaid weaving (knitting?) her tail. Joseph also mentioned something about it being the subject of a Chinese myth, but maybe I misunderstood or got that part of the conversation mixed-up with another part in which he was discussing a Native American/Pacific Islander combination mural that’s on the other side of the building…which I shall be featuring here shortly. And finally, Joseph/James, also told me about a couple of other locations nearby where I could find some wall murals painted by other artists who participated in the event…again…to be shown in another post.
To wrap-up the post, I’ve included a small gallery of some isolation images that you can click on to see in greater detail.
And as always, if you’d like to see more of the City Paint Phoenix posts, or even earlier images of street art in Salt Lake City, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Street Art – Graffiti title under the Categories widget to be taken to a continuous feed of the posts.
I’ve seen it referred to as “The Phoenix Goddess” in a few different locations, but the artist, El Mac, refers to it as Southwest Goddess on his website…click here if you’d like to check it out for yourself.
The directions I found on-line on how to find the mural states simply that it’s in an alley south of McDowell Road between 3rd and 5th Avenues…another set of directions indicate that it’s on an essentially hidden wall of the Laird Apartments at 317 West McDowell Road.
I happened to find it through the first directions, driving up and down alleyways…. There were two other murals close-by, one of which you can see in green paint on the left side of the first image above. I may feature them in a later post.
The fact that the mural is on the east-facing wall of the apartments might have something to do with it remaining in such good condition after being there for 10 years.
This is the fourth mural by El Mac that I’ve featured in the City Paint series…two others in Phoenix and one in Salt Lake City. I have already collected images of two of his other murals in the Phoenix area and know where a third one is, but haven’t gotten to it yet with my camera.
If you’ve enjoyed viewing this fine example of street art, spray-paint murals, building art, or whatever else you’d like to call it, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and click Street Art – Graffiti under the Categories widget to see more posts containing this genre of art from both Phoenix and Salt Lake City, Utah.
What could very likely be the newest mural in Phoenix was created by El Mac and his collaborators. You might remember that I featured some of his other work in an earlier post. I’d like to thank a fellow-blogger and Phoenician, Candace from Glenrosa Journeys, for telling me about the mural. She used to follow the local street-art scene, going from mural to mural, capturing images as they were constantly being painted and painted-over, but she now focuses her blogging and photography around “birds and other critters.”
Candace mentioned that the mural is located at Heavy Pedal…and when I Googled that name, I found that it’s located just down the road from my work-place, at 1309 East Van Buren Street. When I checked further to learn anything I could about the mural, I found this article in the Phoenix New Times.
I stopped by the shop on my way to work with the intention of capturing some images of the mural without any cars parked in front of it…but being on the east-facing side of the building, it was the recipient of the morning’s light from the rising sun…and the attendant shadows that ride along with it. So, the first two images (taken from outside of the gated and locked parking lot) show the shadows and glow of the sunrise, and the photographs in the following gallery show what it looked like about three and a half hours later. If you’d like to view the images in greater detail, just click on any photo in the gallery to be taken to a slide-show where they are displayed in a larger format. It’s crazy and wonderful what these guys can do with spray paint….
And…if you’d like to see earlier posts on street and building art in Phoenix and Salt Lake City, you can scroll to the bottom of the page, find the Categories widget, and click on Street Art – Graffiti to be taken to a continuous scroll of the posts.