Joe Jankovsky's St. Mary's Elementary School Auditorium

Joe Jankovsky
Artist: Joe Jankovsky
Medium: Photographic Print

At Fifth and Van Buren streets in Phoenix you can visit a memorial to the St. Mary's Elementary School. If you ever go, take a moment to stand in front of the historic Archway and try to imagine what, when built, was the largest meeting hall west of the Mississippi.

Also try to imagine hand-painted Spanish Colonial Revival scroll and inlay work on creatively-engineered structural beams. This is a photograph of how it looked, but this view was covered up by a hideous office drop ceiling for over two decades; you can see the vertical lines of support wire in this photograph and the offending ceiling at the bottom of the image. The balcony of this space was at one time needed by the school and was thus walled up to make room for larger classes.

When I made these images, the forces were already in set motion for its destruction. In such instances we should always take time to practice the art historian's tool of "restoration" before acting out. Subtract nonsensical additions with your imagination-- or literally, preferably before any major decisions are made--imagine it in pristine condition.

This is the photograph that took a hammer to make since I had to knock a hole in a wall to get this covered-up-for-decades view of the St. Mary's Elementary School auditorium ceiling. Photographs almost always outlast buildings here in Phoenix and sometimes photographing them requires a hammer. For this Imagine Phoenix series I'd like to envisage Phoenix historical architecture left alone or restored.

The countdown to Best of Phoenix continues! Last year, we profiled 100 Creatives who made a mark on the local arts scene. This year, we'll have 100 creative representations of Phoenix.  No scope or requirement on medium or size -- we'll include photography, painting, sculpture, video, installation, literary, and more. What do you see when you Imagine PHX?

89. Arnold Guerrero's Camelback Mountain
88. Sean Deckert's Ginae vs. the 12th Street Gang 
87. Pete Petrisko's Admiral of Phoenix
86. Quincy Ross' Lone Skyscraper
85. Andrew Armstrong's Illustrated Cityscape 
84. Thomas Schultz's Phoenix Artifact
83. Adrian Lesoing's N. Evergreen
82. Suzanne Falk's Kon Tiki Hotel
81. Lindz Lew's Bon Voyeur
80. Kevin Patterson's Phoenix Swamp Beast
79. Ramy Sidarous' Three Windows
78. Will Mejia's Orpheum Theatre
77. Steve Weiss' Portrait of Louis Lee
76. Larry Willis' Apparition on East McDowell
75. Claire Warden's Untitled No. 3
74. Randy Zucker's Dancing Saguaro
73. Robert Brandan Martinez's Medical Cannabis Tax Stamp
72. Edward Jensen's Phoenix Financial Center70. Mark Dudlik's Phoenix Rebound66. Eric Iwersen's The Saguaros Have Been Here the Longest43. Jill Johnson's Downtown Is ...39. Sebastien Millon's "Phoenix. It's Fabulous."

And, hey! It's lunch time. Check out Chow Bella's 100 Favorite Dishes for some foodie inspiration. 

Have a suggestion for a Phoenix icon by a local creative? Leave it in the comments section or email

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Keep up the great work, Joe!

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